Getting to know Webequie Ontario, A First Nation Community

Getting to know Webequie Ontario, A First Nation Community.

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Webequie is a growing Ojibway community located on the northern peninsula of Eastwood Island on Winisk Lake, 540 km north of the city of Thunder Bay. The 600+ community members originate from all over Northwestern Ontario, and enjoy a life that embraces traditional cultural practices.

Surrounded by Winisk River Provincial Park, Webequie provides tourists a pristine natural landscape with some of the best fishing and hunting in Northern Ontario.

 How Webequie Got Its Name

Webequie, pronounced Way-bih-quay, in an Ojibway word that means “shaking head from side to side”. It received the name many years ago, and has a special meaning to our people.

The story goes, that early one morning a long time ago, a community member was paddling his canoe out onto the lake. He noticed a family of mergansers (large sleek diving ducks) attempting to take flight, and running across the calm surface. It was a very calm day, and there was no wind to help them get airborne. In their frantic attempt to get some lift, the man observed they were shaking their heads from side to side, looking for a breeze.

This is how our name originated, and why we have a merganser as part of our community logo.

Religious Background

Around 1948, the people of Webequie built a square fence around the community with twelve gates. This was based on the Book of Revelations 21. In Revelations 21, an Angel guides a Prophet to the top of a high mountain. From there, the Prophet saw the city of New Jerusalem descend from the heavens to the earth. It was perfectly square with walls six meters high. The walls were made from jasper, and the city of gold, adorned with jewels. There were three gates on each side made from pearl, and each gate was guarded by an Angel. The twelve gates represented the twelve tribes of Israel. The gates were open only to the good and pure. The city represented the second coming of Christ. The gates symbolized how those who believed would enter the gate and have eternal life with the Savior. The fence was used to symbolize the purity of Webequie people.

The fence built to surround Webequie lasted till the mid seventies. Symbolic fences surround the two graveyards in the community, and the Anglican Church. Each grave in the community also has a small fence around the burial plot. This is also symbolic in nature.


For many years, the Anglican religion was the only organized religion permitted in the community. Today, a portion of the residents have returned to traditional native spirituality. There are now three sweat-lodges in the community.

The renaissance of the traditional ways is a welcomed one. The people are eager to embrace the old ways and revive their culture. The traditional knowledge is being recovered at a considerable rate and the people are once again consulting local medicine men. The teachings are a way of living in harmony with oneself in this modern age.

Webequie First Nation (pronounced Webekway) is located on the northern peninsula of Eastwood Island on Winisk Lake, 540 km (336 mi) north of the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Webequie is a fly-in community with no summer road access. The primary way into the community is by air to Webequie Airport or winter road, which connects to the Northern Ontario Resource Trail. The First Nation have the 34,279 ha Webequie Indian Reserve. The Webequie or Webiqui Indian Settlement also have reserve status. Webequie First Nation is a member of the Matawa First Nations, a Regional Chiefs’ Council and a member of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation.

The registered population of Webequie was 714 persons in September of 2007, of which the on-reserve population was 253. The reserve is entirely surrounded by territory of the Unorganized Kenora District.

Webequie is policed by the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service, an Aboriginal based service.


When the Treaties were created between the Canadian government and the Aboriginal people of Canada, Webequie was mistakenly listed as part of the community of Fort Hope. They lived under this error until May 1985, when they were recognized as a distinct band. Despite this, the people of Webequie had to fight until February 15, 2001, to achieve full reserve status.

The name “Webequie” comes from the Anishinini word webikwe meaning “shaking Head.”,_Ontario

square dancing arial pic and title arial view in the winter arial view of the town career fair 2011 church of messiah dancer 2 dancers drummers entrance sign government plan house and kids kids near school map of ontario pointing to Webequie Ring of Fire mining cores mural nature collage nursing-station police logo school and teacherage


Webequie First Nation Videos

Lots of videos about community life, youth, traditional ways, and secular art based outreach…but no Christian videos could be found about Webequie.

Community Life

Good video on community (5 min)

Compilation of videos around community of Webequie (8 min)

Webequie January 2013 (12 min)

Mining and hockey – youth talking about the benefits (2:41)

Ring of fire info- Short documentary (2 min)

Webequie’s who’s who- having some fun (1:54) 2008

Landing in Webequie (1:40)

Traditional Ways

Idle no more Webequie Jan 2013, Traditional drumming, smoking pipe, etc

Picking blueberries, drumming, sewing slippers (7:50)

Bravestone; A band from Webequie (Song: Spirit of the North)


Driving to an unfinished cabin on snowmobile from Webequie (5 min)

A wolf in Webequie (15 secs)

Art Groups

Road to Webequie. DareArts creative team and Noront (6 min)

Dare Arts 2009 : Don’t Stop (5 min) Good pics of the youth.

Videos and talking about youth 2009. Singing, poetry and youth choices(10 min) Dare Arts

Spirit of the North by DareArts and youth of community. Pics of youth (3:50)


Square dance 2010

Flying Aces square dancing (4:35)

Band office footloose style dance 2008 (7 min)

Human musical chairs (4:51)















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