Bingo caller and Native Language Teacher Tory Fisher with youth volunteer Kelsey Borgford.

By Kelly Anne Smith

NIPISSING FIRST NATION – Dabbers were raised and ready for the first ball to be called in the packed Nbissing Secondary School gymnasium and culture centre.  The large room switched from laughing and chatter to suddenly seriously quiet, waiting for the bingo caller to call it.

Tory Fisher shouts out Newdina-shi-nswi, which is N-43 in Anishinaabemowin.

Fisher has experience as a bingo caller and he certainly knows Anishinaabemowin being a Native Language Teacher. Fisher says he’ll often engage his students with the game. He was a natural to lead the special Anishinaabemowin bingo.

When Bezhik was called, you could hear the pride and happiness around the room.  Alex Hebert, who is taking Anishinaabemowin at White Woods Public School in Sturgeon Falls said , “you could tell everyone was dabbing right away and excited when they heard Bezhik.  Everyone knew it was the number one.  We didn’t have to wait for Mr. Fisher to translate!”

The game was part of a series of activities to engage people in the community to “kick off the new year in a good way”. That from Laureen Linklater-Pizzale, the Family and Well-Being Coordinator for Anishinabek Nation.

“Language is important to our culture to make our community well. The connectivity with the language is actually yourself connecting with the creator. When more people are connected that way, the community is more well. “

Linklater-Pizzale looked around, pleased with the great turnout. People continued to fill up the chairs on a Saturday morning. “I’m very thankful that people see the importance in it. People like to have fun while they’re learning so this is a good avenue for that.”

Linklater-Pizzale was keeping busy during the second day of social events getting ready for the Memorial Round Dance. “I have to go cook the Ceremonial Soup right after this.”

Bingo caller Tory Fisher says he has participated in Anishinaabemowin Bingo in the community but it’s been sporadic. He made a hand out card for players translating the numbers 1-75 and letters B-I-N-G-O to Anishinaabemowin. At the top is Giipkinaagewin, meaning “to win”. Any winnings could be placed on chances to win the prizes on the penny prize table. Many Youth volunteers in red shirts hustled about assisting winners.

Fisher was impressed with the turnout as well. “Not bad for 10 am on a Saturday morning. I guess we love our Anishinaabemowin Bingo!”