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June  30, 2006

Angele and Anahareo events great success

The North Bay celebration of the life of Angele Egwuna and the Mattawa gathering for Gertrude Bernard (Anahareo), the two native women that nurtured Canadian author and conservation icon Grey Owl were powerful events.  Both events met their goals of having a strong native involvement, support, and presence. 

The Angele Project 

As discussed here previously the Angele Project Art Exhibition looks at the life and times of Angele Egwuna, Archie Belaney’s (Grey Owl) first wife from Bear Island in Temagami.  The show runs until July 13 at the W.K.P. Kennedy Public Art Gallery on Main Street in North Bay.  Archie Belaney’s 5 years (1907-1912) in Temagami with the Teme-augama Anishnabi people where he learned their culture and language were critical in his later transformation.  His wife Angele and their daughter Agnes and their families continued to live the native way of life for decades with efficiency and pride. 

Bobbie Maxwell sings the National Anthem in Ojibway at the opening of the Angele Project Art Exhibition.

The large Angele extended family was recognized in the exhibit with paintings, photographs, genealogical charts, artifacts, ephemera and performance.  The show extends into all 3 galleries.  At the crowded opening the Lalonde family descendants were front and centre as the major family group.  Extended family members David Laronde played his music prior to the speeches and Bobbie Maxwell sang O Canada in Ojibway.  Well known Bear Island Director and actress Sandra Laronde wrote a piece for the fine catalogue (available at the Gallery). 

Joanne Vachon carried out a smudging ceremony and later led a prayer in Ojibway.  Rose Spence continued the native theme with a drummed and chanted honour song for Angele and performed a Travellers’ Song at the end.  Bear Island Chief Alex Paul brought greetings and Angele’s great granddaughter Kimberly Lalonde spoke about her and Agnes on behalf of the family. 

The outstanding art, history, exhibition arrangement, performance and educational components of the show made for a memorable event.  Two talks on the history and the art were provided during the week along with several school visits and talks.  The Grey Owl movie was shown twice and Armand Ruffo who wrote a book on Grey Owl’s life gave a talk and book signing.  Arlington Hoffman headed a large team of volunteers who worked on the artistic and historical aspects of the exhibition.  He was a major contributor among the 18 artists, including several native artists, who are involved in the event. 

Mattawa’s Anahareo Cultural Gathering 

On Saturday June 17 Gertrude Bernard (Anahareo’s) life was celebrated on the 100th anniversary of her birth.  John Whalen, Museum Board Chair, M. C.’d the event at the Museum and Explorer’s Point in Mattawa.  The event opened in the museum with the unveiling of an expanded Anahareo display.  MP Anthony Rota, MPP Monique Smith, Mayor Dean Bacher, Anahareo’s daughter Anne Gaskill, Anahereo actress Annie Galipeau, Native Elder William Commanda and Chief Richard Assiniwe were just some of the many guests. 

Guests at Mattawa's Anahario Cultural Gathering June 17 celebrated Gertrude Bernard's (Anahareo) life

As the group moved in procession onto the outdoor stage where a large crowd waited, many speeches were made lauding Anahareo’s life.  Many family members were present.  Clermont Duval unveiled a beautiful new painting of Anahareo and a street sign “Anahareo Way” was unveiled for a street named after her.  Ed Sapiano an Anahareo fan spoke about her memorable life with Grey Owl and beyond for decades and her many accolades including the Order of Canada in 1983. 

The younger generation was represented by Brittney Walley’s singing of O’Canada and Whitney Walley sang a song she wrote about Anahareo.  A group of F.J. McElligot Secondary students put on a play on the struggle Anahareo and Grey Owl had adjusting to their new conservationist way of life. 

During the afternoon visitors were entertained by colourful native dancers, a visit to the Sacred Fire, booths, displays and food.  A showing of the Grey Owl movie capped off the evening. 

Congratulations to Museum chair John Whalen, Curator Jane Lenard, the museum board, Recreation and Tourism Director Jacques Begin, Event Co-ordinator Jennifer Jocko and the many volunteers who spent days planning the event and establishing Anahareo in a permanent place in Mattawa and Canadian history.

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