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First Nation history to be showcased at IPM

by Isabel Mosseler

For the first time in its 102 years of history, the International Plowing Match (IPM) will have the full participation of a first nation, another distinguishing feature of the 2019 IPM in Verner. Nipissing First Nation (NFN) has been with the IPM organizing committee since its inception as Tom Lambert, an NFN member and economic development officer, has taken on the role of organizing the RV Park. Further, NFN will be part of the opening ceremonies, and will have their own tent on the grounds.

NFN Chief Scott McLeod notes that the event is being held on the traditional lands of the Nipissing, adding, “We know the benefits it brings to the local economy and we are in support of that – it is one of the larger events that West Nipissing has ever seen. (…) Chief and council has committed to renting a tent for our artisans from the community to set up and display their arts and crafts during that event.”

The tent will also feature a historical component as part of the educational aspect of the IPM. “The Lands Department is going to put it together. We’ve been doing this archaeological program for four years now and there are some interesting findings that are piecing the history of the Nipissings, and verifying a lot of the historical knowledge that we knew; that we’ve been here for quite a long period of time. Some of the artefacts reflect just how long that was —more than 10,000 years of occupation in this territory!” The tent will house some of those artefacts, including items both pre-Contact, and some more recent items from 50-60 years ago.

Tom Lambert notes that this is only the second time the IPM has been in the north. “When Earlton hosted in 2009, they had the largest RV Park with 2200 trailers on site, and it was a big boost to the economy, and they still feel the impact. There was lots of education on agriculture, farming, and its impact on the economy. It’s an eye opener.” 

Chief McLeod agrees that the educational component of the IPM also provides an opportunity to raise awareness. “When you look at Verner, it’s historically known as an agricultural area, and when people think of the history of this country they talk 250 years ago, these were the first pioneers. The fact of the matter is that this area here is known as K’tiganing, “a place of growing” (Garden Village). A lot of our agriculture for centuries was done in this area because of it. I think that’s part of the message that people have to understand, that farming in this area didn’t start 150 years ago, it started 10,000 years ago.”

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“Farming in this area didn’t start 150 years ago, it started 10,000 years ago,” says Chief McLeod