OSI: Winnipeg Summary Report Just Released

Press Release

Addressing Trauma in the Search and Recovery of Missing Children


Elder Charlie Nelson, also known as Mizhakwanigiishik or Nibidekwaneb, from Bagwaa’onishkoziibing (Roseau River First Nation) within Treaty 1 Territory, was scheduled to raise his Pipe during the Gathering; unfortunately, he passed to the Spirit World just days before the Gathering began.

Elder Charlie Nelson had a positive impact on many people’s lives. He was known as respectful, calm, non-judgmental and compassionate. He was an educator and helped establish the Minweweywigaan (often called Charlie’s Lodge), a gathering space for community events, workshops and sweat lodges. In 1988, he was raised up by the Grandmothers of the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge to be Ogimaw of the Western Doorway and entered his 6th Degree in 2016.

Elder Nelson was born to Stan and Marjorie Nelson and was a proud father of six children, one adopted daughter and proud grandfather of 13 grandchildren. He was a Survivor of the Assiniboia Indian Residential School and an advocate for preserving and revitalizing Indigenous languages that were purposefully attacked through the Indian Residential School System.

Among many other contributions over the course of his lifetime, Elder Nelson held governance positions within his community and was a member of the Elders and Knowledge Keepers Circle for the Southern Chiefs’ Organization and the Elders Council for the Southern Network of Care. In his youth, Elder Nelson was a member of the FrontRunners, a group of 10 Indigenous track and field athletes (nine of whom attended Indian Residential Schools) who carried the torch for the 1967 Pan Am Games from St. Paul, Minnesota to Winnipeg Stadium. After carrying the torch for the more than 800-kilometre journey over seven full days, the FrontRunners were sent to a nearby restaurant to watch a White athlete carry the torch into the stadium on television. In 1999, the Manitoba government issued a long overdue official apology and a special ceremony was held at the 1999 Pan Am Games for the seven surviving athletes.

The FrontRunners’ story is recounted in a docudrama released by the National Film Board in 2007 called Niigaanibatowaad: FrontRunners. This film has been shown across Canada and at various events to educate the public. In 2014, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada held a Blanketing Ceremony to honour the FrontRunners. Several months later, at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, four members of the FrontRunners: Charlie Nelson, Bill Chippeway, Charlie Bittern and William Merasty, were honoured and participated in the Opening Ceremonies, which included the Three Fires Ceremony.

Elder Charlie Nelson dedicated his life to the well-being of Anishinaabe people; his approach in all aspects of his life was grounded in traditional Anishinaabe ways of being and seeing the world. He embodied the Seven Grandfather Teachings of Love, Kindness, Respect, Humility, Courage, Wisdom, and Truth and left important tracks for the next Seven Generations.

At the lighting of the Sacred Fire on the first morning of the Gathering, and throughout, special prayers for Elder Charlie Nelson were offered.

Read More: https://osi-bis.ca/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/OSI-SummaryReport_Winnipeg_Nov2022_web.pdf


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