GO-KO-KO ODENA | A Retrospective: 2016 Indigenous Happenings


Ahnii …for those, who give a Hoot! Welcome to Go-ko-ko Odena. ‘Go-ko-ko Odena’ essentially means ‘Owl Community’. ‘Go-ko-ko’ is ‘Owl’ and ‘Odena’ is ‘place of many hearts’. Hope you have a great new year!

There have been all sorts of things happening in the Indigenous world. 

Author, Joseph Boyden’s situation, has brought attention to how Indigenous people are identified. Self-identification is a crucial component in Indigenous identification. However, in some cases there needs to be independent verification. While Mr. Boyden’s situation has yet to be cleared up, there have been various frauds passing themselves as Indian. The more famous one that comes to mind is Grey Owl, aka Archie Belaney.

Betrayal is a strong emotion when frauds are found out.  Especially in the States, Indigenous people have been continuously confronted with people’s claims that my great, great, great grand mammy was a Cherokee princess.  There must of been a lot of royal families within the Cherokee world.

Sometimes, when people realize that I am from the Batchewana Anishinabek Nation, I get the Canadian version. My great, great, great grandmothers were Ojibway. Sometimes people are telling the truth and have recently found out their roots. Generally, people will admit that their male ancestors had children with Indigenous women. It is extremely rare that it is admitted that an Indigenous man hooked up a non-Indigenous woman.

The sense of betrayal comes when the non-Indigenous society goes to these imposters and the imposters become the spokesperson for the Indigenous people. No matter how eloquent the imposter is, the betrayal is unforgivable. People who support our causes and come as themselves are generally, more than welcome.

It is intensively offensive when someone pretends to be us and then speaks for us. This is an invasion of our space, our way of life and even our pain.

Even being inside an indigenous society does not give me the right to speak for other people in our society. It’s like me trying to explain how childbirth feels. I might even say the same things as a woman.   Yet, I can never really speak with that authenticity.

In 2016, Canadian Indigenous people are dealing with the Justin Trudeau government. It is a change from the Harper reign. Real substantive changes do not seem to move fast enough. The Indian Act is not working. Yet, our communities, political and administrative systems are too tied into the Act.  The Indian Industry is alive well and growing. Slow gains but run-away costs, lack of accountability, transparency at local, provincial and national levels. The resulting ineffective red bureaucracy mirrors the federal INAC (or whatever the latest name happens to be).

The Standing Rock situation seems to be the line in the sand. People from multiple Indigenous Nations of Turtle Island, gathered at Standing Rock, in support of the Standing Rock Sioux people’s opposition to the Dakota Access Pipe Line. The DAPL was attempting to cross the Missouri River and Tribal lands including burial sites. This is an ongoing situation that bears watching this year.

One can only wonder when and/or if the various indigenous political organizations will ever get to the point that First Nation peoples will actually get a say in who represents them, or will these organizations remain open only to Chiefs. This concentration of power is not conducive to a balance of powers that our traditional forms of government are based on.

Locally, Jana Headrick, of Garden River, signed with the UoT and is playing hockey with the women’s Varsity Blues. Jana is in her first year and is studying Kinesiology. Jana locally played for the Wildcats and then went to the North Bay Ice Boltz before signing with the Blues.

Britney Zack is also taking the Wildcats and Ice Boltz route. She is playing this year on defence for the Ice Boltz.  She recently committed to Nipissing University Women’s hockey program for 2018-19.  Another Garden River product, Britney’s sister, Reanne, had previously taken the Wildcats, Ice Boltz route in women’s hockey. All 3 of the Garden River products have been on the Indigenous Ontario Team playing at the National Tourney.

Steve Nolan, GR Fire Chief and President of Ontario Native Fire Fighters Society asked for an inquest into the fire protection on reserves, after another tragic fire fatality. There is a need for training, fire equipment to prevent further tragedies.

Jordan Nolan, returned from back surgery and is again playing for the LA Kings. Along with father Ted and brother Brandon 3 Nolans hockey schools and clothing brands are taking off.

Brendan Syrette’s ice fishing gadget, “The Trigger” by Black Fox fishing is gaining national attention in the ice fishing world.  The local Rankin entrepreneur has been attending sports shows in the US and Canada.  Brendan designed his own rod holder after losing a number of commercial rod holders, that didn’t fit into is packsack properly.  From this initial concept he developed The Trigger which is a hook setting device.

And now on to my favourite subject, Darren Zack. Darren is still playing fastpitch and twirling that softball.  In addition, to doing clinics and pitching for countless teams this past summer, Darren pitched with the Toronto Gators in the Legends division coming out as champions.  The Gators also won in the open division. Long time, Gator sponsor, Jack Fireman, is retiring both teams.

Going out as Champions is kewl.  To think the Gators, with Darren, throwing the bulk of games won the ISC in 93 and 95. Breaking in the original Gators with their ISC world championship was an awesome way to start the relationship.  Ending the Gator run with a ISC championship is a tribute to some great players, management and sponsor.  The Gators also won the O.A.S.A Legends division.

Darren also continued his streak with the Oshwekan Senior Braves, helping the Braves to win their third Senior All Ontario Native Fastball title.  Darren also got to play with the M’Chigeeng Ridge Runners team.  He is still creating great memories playing with young men who weren’t even born when he began.

He even blasted a monster walk off homer.



About the Author: Joe Corbiere, grew up in Uptown Rankin Reservation.  He went to high school at White Pines, which was named after Shingwauk.  Joe has had a varied career teaching at Algoma University and working for Mamaweswen, the North Shore Tribal Council. He also worked as a lawyer for a few years after graduating from the University of Toronto law school. Joe is entering his ‘ar-teeest’ period.  He is showing his sensitive artistic tendencies by writing poetry and photographing throughout the Pawatung area.


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