Life in Wiikwemkoong: Ashlee Manitowabi zooms in
Things are quiet these days in Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory. Ashlee Manitowabi is keeping busy while there’s no place to go.
Ashlee’s community is located on Manitoulin Island, 325 km north of Stratford (550 km northwest of Toronto). By now, the island would be ramping up for the usual influx of cottagers and tourists. Motorists, cyclists and hikers would be lined up in Tobermory waiting to board the Chi-Cheemaun ferry for the nearly two-hour crossing. This year, Manitoulin’s as quiet as a mist rising over the coves of Manitowaning.
The good news for Ashlee and all islanders: Covid-19 has been kept at bay . (As of June 11, 2020: four positives, zero deaths.) A bunch of factors have helped: the island’s population is small and spread out; Wiikwemkoong and the other five Anishinaabe First Nations on Manitoulin installed checkpoints and discouraged non-essential travel to and from the communities; and the tourists and summer residents have stayed away (so far).
Ashlee, 37, is a jack-of-all trades, with lots on the go these days to stay motivated. His partner, Amanda, and he have five children to keep them hopping, too. It was a rare opportunity to spend time with him. He started with a “hey what’s up” in Ojibwe.
(Update: since this article was published, all checkpoints on Manitoulin Island have been opened. The MS Chi-Cheemaun is now available for non-essential travel.)
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