By Shirley Honyust
LONDON – Jim Dumont, Onaubinisay (Walks Above the Ground), is an Ojibway-Anishinabe of the Marten Clan, originally from the Shawanaga First Nation on Eastern Georgian Bay. He is the Chief of the Eastern Doorway of the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge and is the keeper of the sacred Waterdrum. As such he is a leader in the Eastern part of the Anishinabe Midewiwin Territory and a respected Indigenous Scholar well known for his knowledge of traditional ways.
Dumont’s topic, as he spoke to a captive audience at N’Amerind Friendship Centre, was on his interpretation of the prophecy of the 7th Fire, as he has come to understand through the teachings that he acquired throughout his life. His knowledge of the prophesies were explained in down-to-earth vocabulary so that everyone in attendance was able to relate to, peppered of course with lapses into Indigenous humour at his own expense. Easy to understand why he is so much in demand as a speaker.
The lecture was hosted by the Yesalihuni Program (in English “They Will Teach You”), which is part of the First Nations Studies course at Fanshawe College and Western University. The teachings that have been hosted by N’Amerind Friendship Centre over the past two years have been delivered for the most part by traditional teachers who are local to the area of Southwestern Ontario and Dumont’s lecture brought a new degree of wisdom to an attentive audience of students, academics and community members.
The traditional teachings are held, as a rule, on Monday evenings on a bi-monthly basis, and it was a rare occasion that brought Dumont as a guest speaker to the centre on the Wednesday night. Fanshawe students earn credits for attending the traditional teachings that go towards their First Nations Studies diploma. As well, these credits are respected and regarded by Western University as a complement to the First Nations Studies degree course that is offered there.
Dumont gave an impressive interpretation of the earlier prophesies leading up to and including the 7th Fire, while at the same time respecting the details that needed to be left unshared, out of respect for the protocol of the teachings of his Midewiwin Lodge. He shared this lecture at the invitation of Ron Hill, Cultural Coordinator of the Yesalihuni Program operating from the venue at N’Amerind, where Dumont’s traditional teaching was held in high esteem by a captive audience.
Tina Stevens, of the Kitigan Ziibi First Nation and Chippewas of the Thames, said that listening to Dumont was “like opening a door to a world of knowledge that was previously unopened”. She was one of some 70 participants who attended the Yesalihuni traditional teaching.