CLICK HERE to read an article featuring Daniel Stevens, who was a Councillor at the time, elaborating on the importance of the development of NFN’s Debendaagziwaad (Citizenship) Law. The article was first published by BayToday and also ran in the Toronto Star.

Debendaagziwaad Committee Update – February 2022

In an effort to raise awareness about this important governance initiative and to update our Nation on committee progress, we will be providing monthly updates from our Debendaagziwaad Committee meetings in our Enkamgak (community newsletter) moving forward.

As a refresher, the Debendaagziwaad Committee was formed in 2018 as an ad-hoc (for a specific purpose) committee to develop a Debendaagziwaad (citizenship) Law that defines the rights and obligations of our debendaagziwaad and endaawaad (those who live among us) within the jurisdiction of Nipissing Nation, in accordance with our Gichi-Naaknigewin. The committee is comprised of seven (7) members of Nipissing First Nation, representing elders, youth, NFN members at large, and two (2) representatives of Chief and Council (Chief McLeod and Councillor Daniel Stevens).

The committee has continued to meet monthly, with their most recent meeting on February 17th, 2022. This meeting was focused on continuing to develop the core principles for the proposed Debendaagziwaad Law prior to drafting. The core principles will serve as a foundation to help guide the development of the law and ensure the proposed law reflects NFN values, beliefs, and vision for the future. At the February 17th meeting, the committee reviewed a core principle concerning the inclusion of a component and/or criteria on understanding NFN culture & language (anishinaabemwin). It was felt by the committee that the principle needed to be strengthened to ensure that prospective members have some knowledge of culture and recognize the importance of anishinaabemwin.

The committee also discussed the question of “why do we want to determine our own Debendaagziwaad Law?” The committee agreed that answering this question in depth would help identify any additional core principles that may need to be considered before drafting a law.

The following reasons to develop a citizenship law were reviewed and affirmed: to ensure the continued existence of Nipissing people into future generations, to support our sovereign ability and responsibility of self-governance, to identify who are responsible for building and honoring our Nation, who are entitled to protection within our Nation, and those who are entrusted with the future of the Nation.

The committee further emphasized the need to include a statement regarding the revitalization and preservation of our language and culture. The committee also conducted a fulsome discussion on what is expected of a good citizen, with reference to the seven grandfather teachings and understanding of NFN culture and history.

It was noted that a priority area for the committee moving forward will be to develop a plan to engage membership to educate the community about citizenship, keep the Nation informed of committee progress, and seek input on the core principles. This web page will be used to support information sharing on committee work and citizenship-related resources.

If you have any thoughts regarding the subject of citizenship or the discussion questions below and would like to share them with the committee, please provide them to Councillor Brian Couchie, Debendaagziwaad Committee Chair at [email protected] or Freda Martel, Director of Administration, at [email protected].

  • Why do you think it is important to develop a Debendaagziwaad (Citizenship) Law?
  • In your view, what is expected of a good citizen?