All About Alumni / Winter 2017
Exploring Northern Communities

U of T alumni connect with First Nations people in northern Ontario


Headshot of George Rose wearing wolf head regalia

George Rose of Attawapiskat First Nation. Photo: Nick Kozak

When Nick Kozak (BSc 2005 Trinity) and I attended the Double “M” Traditional Powwow last February in Moose Factory, everything seemed pleasant. But beneath the surface there was conflict in need of reconciliation.

In total, we drove 3,000 kilometres over northern Ontario ice roads and found powerful stories within and beyond the powwow. Travelling through numerous First Nations adjacent to James Bay – all part of the Mushkegowuk Tribal Council – we met people such as George Rose, a residential school survivor seen here wearing wolf head regalia, symbolizing reverence for all animals and birds.

At Moose Factory, we also met a small band of activists commencing a 500-kilometre snowshoe trek to Chisasibi, Quebec, to raise awareness about violence against women. The group was embarking on a Meen’wach (a Cree word meaning Healing Road). They were recognized at the powwow with an Honour Dance, in recognition of their noble undertaking. Amongst other things, the powwow is about reclaiming pride.

“A sense of adventure, a friendship, and a desire to return north to connect with First Nations people and their land led us to take on the ice roads,” says Kozak, of the 16-day trip.

Read more about Kozak and Locke’s journey at ontheiceroad.wordpress.com.


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