Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation
Points of Interest
Aundek Omni Kaning First Nation is the traditional name for this busy community located 6 kilometers west of Little Current on Highway540.
This traditional name fairly recently officially replaced ‘Sucker Creek First Nation,’ the name that had been applied to this territory when the reserve system was set up on Manitoulin in 1862 following treaty negotiations with the government of Upper Canada.
Aundek Omni Kaning renders neatly into AOK First Nation and that positive-sounding acronym seems fine with everyone. There is now an AOK store and gas bar along the highway.
AOK was the first of Manitoulin’s first nations begin to expand its land base when farms adjacent to its treaty borders came up for sale. Since the initial farm purchase, the community has acquired land on its west, east and northern boundaries. All of the other First Nation communities on Manitoulin have now each acquired adjacent lands.
AOK enjoys its sports and recreation there are two men’s’ fastball teams that played in the Island league and the community’s ballpark is busy all summer at least two days a week. It’s in the center of the community, once again, along Highway 540.
Beside it is the new Four Directions Complex. This is a first-rate gymnasium with hardwood floors for all the sports where this is appropriate. The complex also features a fitness centre, the community’s library and a kitchen to help host major community events in the gym (which can double as a community hall.)
Vital health services that are associated with all of Manitoulin’s First Nations communities, are headquartered at AOK in a very functional but stylized building on property located just past the community’s attractively stone-faced administration offices and just before the highway, westbound curves to the right.
Prior to the 1862 Manitoulin treaty that established the boundaries of the Island’s First Nations communities, a man names George Abotossaway had established a viable business in Little Current selling fuelwood to the steam-driven commercial shipping that passed by present-day Little Current en route through the North Channel where they were bound for fledgling commuter on the Island’s northern coast and, across the channel, to towns that side all the way to Sault Ste. Marie and beyond.
In the AOK area:
A substantial First Nations community had built up around Georg Abotossaway’s business endeavours and present-day Little Current (in Ojibwe it’s Waibejung: ‘where the waters flow back and forth’) was well on its way to becoming an Indigenous community.
Following the treaty, the Abotossaway family and their friends convinced to abandon Waibejung and move slightly westward to present day AOK. The present-day Little Current was re-named ‘the Town Plot of Shaftesbury’ and surveyed for settlement by new settlers moving north.
This change in approach is interesting in light of on historic site plaques situated in the courtyard space of the Manitoulin Expositor Office in downtown Little Current.
It notes that, on this site, the Husdons Bay Company built a new trading post in the early 1850s in order to take advantage of the growing commercial traffic.
The historic plaque explains that the building (which burned in the 1940s) was never opened for its original purpose by the Hudsons Bay Company because clergy and government dissuaded them from competing with a burgeoning Aboriginal business: that of George Abotossaway. What a difference a treaty makes.
The Aundek Omni Kaning pow wow is always the very first one each year among the Manitoulin communities and is held on the first weekend in June at the community’s beautiful park, beach and pow wow grounds. The road to this park is off Highway 540, directly across from the band administration offices.