Nishnawbe Aski Nation (known as Grand Council Treaty No. 9 until 1983) was established in 1973. It represents the legitimate, socioeconomic, and political aspirations of its First Nation members of Northern Ontario to all levels of government in order to allow local self-determination while establishing spiritual, cultural, social, and economic independence. In 1977, Grand Council Treaty No. 9 made a public declaration of the rights and principles of Nishnawbe Aski.
Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s objectives are:
- Implementing advocacy and policy directives from NAN Chiefs-in-Assembly
- Advocating to improve the quality of life for the people in areas of education, lands and resources, health, governance, and justice
- Improving the awareness and sustainability of traditions, culture, and language of the people through unity and nationhood
- Developing and implementing policies which reflect the aspirations and betterment of the people
- Developing strong partnerships with other organizations
NAN is a political territorial organization representing 49 First Nation communities within northern Ontario with the total population of membership (on and off reserve) estimated around 45,000 people. These communities are grouped by Tribal Council (Windigo First Nations Council, Wabun Tribal Council, Shibogama First Nations Council, Mushkegowuk Council, Matawa First Nations, Keewaytinook Okimakanak, and Independent First Nations Alliance) according to region. Six of the 49 communities are not affiliated with a specific Tribal Council.
NAN encompasses James Bay Treaty No. 9 and Ontario’s portion of Treaty No. 5, and has a total land-mass covering two-thirds of the province of Ontario spanning 210,000 square miles. The people traditionally speak four languages: OjiCree in the west, Ojibway in the central-south area, and Cree and Algonquin in the east.
NAN continues to work to improve the quality of life for the Nishnawbe Aski territory. Through existing partnerships and agreements with Treaty partners (governments of Canada and Ontario), NAN continues to advocate on behalf of the communities it represents for self-determination with functioning self-government.
The Great White Bear
The Great White Bear stands in the circle - the traditional symbol of life of the North American Indian. The background is red - symbolic of the Red Man. His feet are firmly planted on the bottom line - representing Earth. His head touches the top line - symbolic of his relationship to the Heavens and to the Great Spirit. He stands with feet stretched out to the four smaller circles which represent the North, East, South and West - to show that he has nothing to hide. The circles joining his rib cage represent our various communities. The lines of the rib cage of the Great Bear symbolize the traditions, the culture, the songs, the legends and the prayers of our People that bind our communities together as one. These lines are essential, for without the protection of the rib cage, the heart is open for anyone seeking to destroy that life.
The Great White Bear is the Spirit and Soul of the NISHNAWBE ASKI NATION.
NAN Veterans Flag
The NAN Veterans Flag was formally unveiled in 2009 during a special ceremony at the opening of the XXVIII Keewaywin NAN Chiefs Assembly in Chapleau Cree First Nation to honour the service and sacrifice that NAN veterans have made while defending the Canada’s freedom and democracy. The flag helps to ensure that the significant wartime contributions of its Aboriginal veterans are remembered and recognized and is flown in all 49 NAN First Nation communities.
The NAN flag was designed by Aboriginal artist Patrick Cheechoo, from Constance Lake First Nation. This image is a tribute to the Cree, Ojibway and Oji-Cree war veterans from NAN as depicted by the Goose and the Bear. The Goose and the Bear, along with the Eagle Staff, signify the connection that First Nations people have with Mother Nature, all living things, our culture and our traditions. The Eagle Staff is a symbol of unity – there is unity within our people and our Veterans have demonstrated that there can be unity with Canada, North America and the World. The Elder veteran carrying the staff signifies a place of honour for all veterans in our hearts and in our prayers. The rising sun depicts the daily sunrises permitted to us by the veterans to enjoy sovereignty, to protect that which was given to us by the Creator. The seven Eagle Feathers acknowledge the seven sacred teachings; teachings that guided each veteran to fight - to protect.