Home grown hero tribute receives support

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016 12:58pm


Image Caption

Chief Warren Tabobondung of Wasauksing First Nation with Chief Wayne Pamajewon of Shawanaga First Nation

Shawanaga First Nation has donated $10,000 to the Ontario Native Education Counselling Association in support of a bronze monument commemorating Chief Francis Pegahmagabow, First Nation hero of the Great War.

The life-sized bronze will be unveiled during a public celebration on National Aboriginal Day, June 21 at the Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts, Parry Sound, Ont.

Francis Pegahmagabow was born and raised in Shawanaga First Nation.  He enlisted early and served overseas for virtually all of the First World War. He was a superior scout and sniper, and was one of very few to be awarded a Military Medal and two bars.  In Canada’s history, no other Indigenous soldier has ever received as many battle awards.

After the war, he settled at Wasauksing First Nation, where he twice served as chief.

“It takes a community to raise a child.  In this case, two communities – Shawanaga and Wasauksing – played an important role in the rearing of a warrior, chief, and strong advocate for First Nations,” said current chief of Shawanaga First Nation, Wayne Pamajewon.

“Today, both Shawanaga and Wasauksing share the legacy of Francis Pegahmagabow.  We have a great relationship, and very strong ties, because of the bond that our people have created over history.  We support each other in times of need, and in times of celebration.”

 “When you share a love for your people, there are no boundaries.”

Pamajewon said Pegahmagabow spent much of his early years receiving teachings from the Elders in Shawanaga, which prepared him for his life’s journey, “teaching him how to connect with the world around him, with humans, animals, and the spirit world.

“When Francis left to serve overseas, he had all the gifts he needed to do the job that the Creator had sent him to do.”

Shawanaga First Nation also plans to dedicate one side of a new four-lane highway bridge, to be built in the area, to Sgt. Francis Pegahmagabow.  The other side will be dedicated to the memory of Cpl. Charles Nanibush of Shawanaga First Nation, who died in action on March 8, 1945, as the Algonquin Regiment fought its way toward the Rhine River in Germany.

“They were so young, so brave, they were our sons. We are proud to contribute to the monument honouring Francis, and to offer the bridge dedication with gratitude and deep respect,” said Pamajewon.

The association still needs to raise about $30,000 for the bronze statute.

“We are so grateful for this gift, offered in the spirit of honouring our people, of celebrating one of Shawanaga’s own…We hope people will continue to support this spirit-building commemoration, said  Roger Chum, president of ONECA. “We’d like more Canadians to hear Pegahmagabow’s story, and to learn about Indigenous people’s military service to Canada.”

Donations can be made by cheque payable to “Parry Island Hero”, and sent to ONECA, P.O. Box 220, 37 A Reserve Road, Naughton, Ontario, P0M 2M0, or online (via Pay Pal) at www.oneca.com.

Contact parryislandhero@gmail.com, and visit facebook.com/parryislandhero2016