Gathering emphasizes tradition, welcomes public

Fort William First Nation, Ont. — An annual fall gathering at Fort William First Nation’s Mt. McKay lookout aims to emphasize traditional Indigenous spirituality and prayer — including the spiritual symbolism of the mountain itself — when the event takes place at the end of the month. At least that’s the hope of the band’s cultural co-ordinator. “I’d like to get back to the traditional way of meetings, teachings and gatherings — and the celebration of us,” Gail Bannon, who is organizing the Sept. 30 event, said Thursday. “The mountain has a long history, and has always been a place for our people, well before the 1850 Robinson-Superior Treaty,” Bannon added. The 300-metre mesa gives a commanding view of Lake Superior and the Nor’Wester escarpment that overlooks Thunder Bay. Eight years ago, new powwow grounds were built at the lookout sight. Part of restoring the mountain’s aura, Bannon said, is to refer to it by its traditional Ojibwa name — Anemki Wajiw — which translates into English as Thunder Mountain. Bannon said updating literature about the traditional name remains a work-in-progress. Though the Sept. 30 gathering is to be more of a traditional affair, including a sunrise ceremony, it is to be open to the public and will include Indigenous dancers and drumming ceremonies, Bannon said. Fort William First Nation also hosts a powwow event during the July long weekend. Visitors to the mountain lookout should be prepared to pay a toll operated by the band. The fee for cars and trucks is $10, while pedestrians and cyclists are charged $2. Tolls can be paid by credit and debit cards. Cash is not accepted. More visitor information can be obtained by email at