By Kelly Anne Smith
NIPISSING FIRST NATION – Les Couchie has a German Sheppard who is friendly with squirrels and chipmunks. The little creatures follow Couchie too when he strolls across his backyard with that prime view of Lake Nipissing.
Les often captures gorgeous sunsets over the lake with his Nikon. Much to the delight of Facebook friends and followers, Les shares the images. But that’s not all he shares on Nipissing First Nation Voices.
Couchie is a wealth of information continuing on the quest for more. That’s how he built a following of 2034 friends on his Facebook page Nipissing First Nation Voices. The news feed reached 10,135 people last week.
As well as providing visual appeal, he feeds his friends and followers a range of information on Nipissing First Nation events and history. There is fresh content on provincial, federal and global Indigenous issues. Local gas prices are posted too.
The author also gives his opinions. Couchie warns his readers first with a Rant Alert. After hearing boat motors late into the night, Couchie called out nameless commercial fishers who were not supposed to be fishing with a moratorium at the time. In January he appealed for members to petition the government to control the harvest. “Without action today we will lose our rich forest and water resources and so will our grandchildren. Ask your government to apply the ‘Seven Generation’ thinking to our resources.”
Once he published a Rant Retraction and provided a full explanation. Comments are always welcome on Nipissing First Nation Voices.
“As the title says, it’s giving them a voice, politically and locally. When we first started up, we were hard up against the existing government at the time. It’s since changed; we weren’t very fond of some of the things that were going on.”
Couchie challenges readers and leaders to action on NFN Voices. In February, he challenged all of Bradford to help with a First Nations settlement that Couchie himself was sending a few truckloads of supplies to, along with the labourers.
Educating his community and the public about Nipissing First Nation with photos and stories has created an ongoing historical quest with community members. “I’ve been posting old pictures of the community and now, people are starting to bring them to me so I can scan them in and publish them. There is a lot of historical content in the community.” Online one can read of relatives offering their connection to the ancestor posted in the photo.
“We try to do whatever is news to the community. It originally was started up just for the community and it morphed into something else. So many other people are interested in all types of issues. And then I explored into famous Native Americans and became connected with the United States Native Americans and started getting their stories involved.”
Historical news stories, originally printed in the Toronto Star, are regularly added. Couchie discusses the racist writing and attitudes in society about Indigenous Peoples in the 1930s when many of the Star articles were written.
Before Couchie shares posts with his Facebook friends and followers, he gives recognition for forwarding informative posts to Nipissing First Nation Voices, such as, “Thanks to Jenny Kay Dupis for this story”.
Credited with installing The Nipissing Warriors into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Couchie himself was #19 and nicknamed Twiggy. He also brought the Blue Jays to Garden Village.
“I saw an article about a player that had a cocaine problem. So I called the front office and ended up talking to the marketing team. He was here within three months. He came to the community one night and everybody came out. It was jam packed. That’s what it takes. That relationship developed to the point that in 2002 we had First Nations Day at the SkyDome. We had one of our kids throw out the first pitch. Our kids sang the national anthem and they did a demonstration of singing and dancing on the field.”
Couchie makes his Facebook friends feel included. “Please welcome Anne Marshall to NFN Voices.” Couchie follows with a gem. “Can anyone use some pickerel (three fillets) for dinner?”
Late in the day comments start on the amazing sunset colouring the waves red, “Beautiful photo!” If it’s warm and sunny and a great shot, the photographer is content. “The end to another great day on the rez.” The soothing post comes with a spectacular sunset photo. Last night’s looked like Couchie captured the navy blanket of night falling on the golden sun splashing red on Lake Nipissing. Calming yes, yet leaving us wanting more of Nipissing First Nation Voices.
This page is not affiliated with NFN’s Administration. The Nipissing First Nation Facebook page is very active with notices to the membership, success stories, as well as sharing local, regional and national news and opportunities that may be relevant or of interest to members. The address is: https://www.facebook.com/NipissingFN/