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A truly historic occasion helped to mark National lndigenous Peoples Day on June 21, 2018. As part of a full day of celebrations hosted by Saugeen First Nation, two communities came together over the beautiful Saugeen River for a much anticipated bridge naming ceremony to symbolically connect Southampton and bridge2Saugeen First Nation. The newly named "Zgaa-biig-ni-gan" ("we are connected") Bridge is the result of the hard work of students and staff from G. C. Huston Public School, in consultation with Elders from Saugeen First Nation.

The ceremony, which attracted a large crowd of local residents and dignitaries from both communities, students, school and board staff, media, and service club representatives, included remarks from G.C. Huston Principal Dan Russell, Saugeen First Nation Chief Lester Anoquot, Saugeen Shores Mayor Mike Smith, and Bluewater District School Board Director of Education Alana Murray. The itinerary was augmented by an "Honour Song" on the grandfather drum, "Endaayaang (Our Home)" performed by women drummers, a prayer offered by former Saugeen First Nation Chief Vern Root, a speech and the unveiling of new signs for the bridge by student Mya Falsey, and heartfelt words by Rita and Melissa Root on the meaning of "Zgaa-biig-ni-gaan".

Below are remarks provided at the ceremony by Principal Dan Russell and Grade 7 student Mya Falsey, as well as a video and photo gallery.

 

 

Remarks by Principal Dan Russell

"Aanni Boojoo Dan Russell niin diizh naa kauz.
M'Wikwedong niin doon jii baa.
Niin gchi-nendem kino-maa-geyan maanpii sa G.C. Huston Kino maa gay-ga-mik.
Gchi miigwetch, maan pii nin go-dooo-dayak gaa-beyaa-jik.
Ab chi-gwa miigwech-wendam nongwa.
Miigwetch.

"Good afternoon and welcome.
My name is Dan Russell.
I am the principal of G.C. Huston Public School.
Thank you to all who have gathered today for coming together as one family.

"Ab chi-gwa miigwech-wendam nongwa means...
I feel very proud to gather with you today. There could be no truer words.
Today our gathering is much more than putting up a couple of road signs. It's much more than simply attaching a name to a bridge.
Rather, our gathering today is about unity, love, and mutual respect.
It's about putting our words into action and celebrating 'truthful relationships'.
It's about appreciating our uniqueness but at the end of the day, coming together as one family.

"The bridge that we're standing on is nothing special as a structure. It is simply concrete and metal. However, our bridge symbolizes a connected community – Zgaa-biig-ni-gan – from one end to the other, we are connected.
Today we have a number of special guests here to welcome you and to join our celebration. Before they begin, we're going to have our men's drumming group open our gathering with an Honour Song."

Remarks by Grade 7 student Mya Falsey

"On behalf of G.C. Huston Public School, we would like to welcome everyone to our gathering.
We feel honored that our school was able to choose the name for our bridge.
We wanted it to be a name that described our special relationship.
We wanted it to be a name that reminded us that even though we are unique, we are still family.
The name we chose is Zgaa – beeg-nee-gun which means 'from one end to the other, we are connected'.
We hope that you appreciate the significance of this name. Please uncover the signs."


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