Zhiibaahaasing First Nation
Points of Interest
There is an interesting story relating to Zhiibaahaasing First Nation at its current location. It’s adjacent to Sheshegwaning First Nation and its access is along the Sheshegwaning First Nation’s main road, through their territory and on into Zhiibaahaasing. But this is a relatively recent development.
The First Nation is an old one, but its land base was historically on Cockburn Island, the large Island across the Mississagi Straits from the far westerly tip of Manitoulin. Because of its remote location the band had long-since ceased to use their Cockburn Island territory for anything but ceremonial purposes and for band members who wanted to camp there. The band membership was widely dispersed throughout Northern and Southern Ontario and the Mid-western United States. But it was still a First Nation band, recognized by the Government of Canada as such.
In the Zhiibaahaasing area:
Around 1990, negotiations with the federal government ended with a new territory being available to the Cockburn Island First Nations and that the present site: on the North Channel with access through neighbouring Sheshegwaning First Nation. At the same time, the band adopted the traditional name of Zhiibaahaasing First Nation and began “nation building” in a new territorial homeland. (The band still holds its old reserve lands on Cockburn Island.)
The population is still fairly small, but it is vigorous. In the late 1990s, the community determined to make its mark and create installations that would offer the fledgy First Nation some profile both on old and beyond Manitoulin. The result was the first of what would become a triumvirate of cultural icons: The World’s Largest Peace Pipe, right in the centre of the village.
A few years later, this was followed by the World’s Largest Dream Catcher, installed near the big pipe and, following that the World’s Largest Pow Wow Drum. The First Nation has made its mark, certainly, and members of its council have taken their places on the boards of each of the Island wide organizations specific to First Nations. The three large installations are popular with tourist and have served to help put a new community ‘on the map’.