Chief’s Letter No. 5

Originally published in the May 1, 2020 edition of Pikwakanagan Tibadjumowin

Kwey, Hello, Bonjour,

I paid a visit today to our Algonquin Veterans Warrior Memorials site, located within our Pow Wow grounds and nestled close to the shore of Golden lake. The Veterans Warrior Memorials are dedicated to all Algonquin Warriors who served Canada during War and Peace and you will see their names listed on each memorial. The list is not complete we are endeavouring to identify all Algonquin Warriors to make sure their names are remembered for eternity.

I have always been interested in Military history ever since I was a young child, I find it extremely fascinating. I am particularly interested in our Algonquin Veteran Warriors History and our involvement in various military campaigns.

I would like to share a story with you if I may. My family comes from a long line of warriors with a long history of military involvement. My great grandfather times six was Constant Pinesi of the Partridge Band he was the son of Chief Wamboak. Grandfather Pinesi fought for the British during the War of 1812, and by 1830 he was the Grand Chief of the Algonquins which included 264 families.

Grandfather Pinesi’s hunting territory was centred at the confluence of the Rideau and Ottawa Rivers. In his later years he lived on the Madawaska River within the Ottawa Valley. Sadly, grandfather Pinesi and his wife died on 13 August 1834 during the cholera epidemic which claimed more than 55 thousand peoples lives at that time.

During World War I, my uncles and great uncles along with all but three Algonquin Warriors from Pikwakanagan fought overseas in France and Europe from 1914-1918. At the end of the War the Spanish flu broke out killing more than 40 million people. At the same time tuberculosis was carried back by many infected soldiers returning to Canada and to the United States. For some reason tuberculosis is a neglected topic in historical epidemiology, 1.5 million deaths have been associated with this disease since the first recorded pandemic.

During World War II which lasted from 1939-1945, my father along with five of his brother two sisters, sister-in-law and my own mother joined the war effort as did many Algonquin Warriors at that time. During World War II and the Korean War 1950-1953 countless influenza pandemics were recorded worldwide claiming many lives. Algonquin Warriors fought for the USA during the War with Vietnam 1969-1972 when the 1969 Hong Kong Flu killed an estimated one million people worldwide. All Warriors faced many battles which also included the monumental epidemics of alcoholism and drug addiction.

As a result of worldwide pandemics many lessons have been learned from history regarding strategies for containment for the spread of disease. As we know Covid-19 is a serious health threat, and the situation is evolving daily. The risk will vary between communities and within communities. The lessons learned from past pandemic situations is to use tried and true health measures such as self isolation and physical (social) distancing.

I am the Seventh Generation in Grandfather Constance Pinesi’s line as I am sure some of you are as well. The Seventh Generation Principle is based on an ancient philosophy that the decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations into the future.

Many of us have already given life to the start of the next seven generations through our own children and grandchildren. We must remember the decisions we make today are for our children, grandchildren and for their next seven generations, and to ensure the survival of our great nation. Though at a time like we are experiencing now it is normal to feel sad, stressed, confused, scared or worried, remember that you are not alone.

We are all Warriors in this COVID-19 pandemic situation. Wellness-Warriors, and we are saving our own lives, we are in this battle together, soldiering on. We can, and we will WIN this battle if we stick together, while staying apart, and do our part and follow the health measures prescribed such as self isolation and physical (social) distancing.

Our Veteran Warriors are gone but not forgotten:
Kida madji-gig teyesh
Ishkose-yang tash kidji apitizing
Kan Kida kawi-tamosig ondje apitiziwin Ashidj endaso-pibonagak Kidji pagide-nimang Apich pang-ishimodj kizis
Ashidj kigije-bawagak
Kiga mamidonenimigom
Kiga mamidonenimigom

They Shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them

We will remember them.