Passing of Elder Gidigaa Migizi
Message from the Director
The Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies mourns the passing of Elder Gidigaa Migizi (Doug Williams) and honours his service and contribution to his community and to our School.
a widely respected elder, historian, hunter, fisher, ceremonial leader, language keeper and storyteller, past Chief and at times an activist…These stories are more than just a chronicle of oral history. They document Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg as provocateurs, strategists, connectors, agitators, and intellectuals. They show that resistance and resurgence have always been part of us.
Leanne Betasmosake Simpson, commenting on Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg: This Is Our Territory, Peterborough Examiner, Oct 14, 2018
Gidigaa Migizi has passed into the spirit world and is now with his ancestors. We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and to his community of Curve Lake First Nation.
Gidigaa Migizi was a historian, a teacher, and professor. He was one of the first Indigenous Studies graduate from Trent in 1972. After a long public service career as a corrections officer, Band Councillor and Chief of Curve Lake First Nation, Gidigaa Migizi turned his attention back to Trent and joined the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies in 2004 as the Director of Studies for the new Indigenous Studies PhD program. His job, as he described it, was to ensure the cultural integrity of the program ensuring that it remained grounded in the lands, cultures, histories, and knowledge of the Michi Saagiig Anishinaabe. Doug was the Chair of the Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers Council which advises the university on Michi Saagiig Anishinaabe cultural matters and protocols and guides the relationship with local First Nations and Indigenous peoples.
Gidigaa Migizi was also an Indigenous public intellectual, an Elder respected for his deep and profound knowledge of Michii Saagiig culture, tradition, and ceremony. He used his knowledge to educate as many as he could about the history of the lands and Indigenous peoples in this area, ensuring that the Michii Saagiig were not disappeared from history and were seen as an important contemporary presence.
Gidigaa Migizi has had a profound influence on undergraduate and graduate students throughout the university. He did not stop teaching throughout the confinement phase of the pandemic, often teaching from his hospital bed in the Peterborough Regional Health Care Centre using his IPAD and in on the land distanced courses using helpers. He was also at work on a new book to complement his book: Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg: This is our Territory. Doug was tireless in his teaching and in his support of students and anyone who desired to learn about Indigenous peoples and the Michi Saagiig in particular.
Gidigaa Migizi’s contributions to the School, to Trent, to his community and to Canada are the foundation that we build upon. We honour his work by continuing it with vigor, tenacity and kindness. He is an outstanding ancestor.
the overall lesson (from his book and teachings) is that we as Anishinaabeg, Indigenous, and Settlers need to learn and understand the perspectives of the Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg in relation to the history and lands now claimed by Canada. This lesson can be expanded to include the need for all of us to learn and understand the aadizookaanag and dibaajimowinan of the peoples and lands where we lived and still reside. Karl Hele, Professor, Canadian Studies, Mount Allison University, Anishinabek News, June 20, 2019
Indigenous Voices on Treaties – Doug Williams (2018)
The Knowledge Holders Series – Doug Williams (2019)
A Conversation with Curve Lake First Nation Elder Doug Williams – Dechinta University with Leanne Simpson (2020)