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Newsletter Index:

  • Welcome to 2024!
  • Our first Advisory Board Meeting
  • Ginawaydaganuc Village 2023 recap
  • Hiring of Kyra Knapp, Economic Development Officer
  • Current Status of Land Purchase
  • Hiring of Roxanne Darling, Community Liaison Officer
  • Hiring of Krystal Abotossaway, Human Resources Consultant
  • Job advertisement for new CEO position
  • Welcoming our newest Board Members Larry McDermott and Chuck Commanda
  • Farewell to Romola Thumbadoo


The team at Ginawaydaganuc Village hopes you all had a wonderful holiday season and wish you many blessings for the new year. On the surface it probably seemed as though not much has been going on this past six months, but behind the scenes we have been very busy Beavers! We have a lot of exciting news to share, so lets get started with an announcement about our long-awaited upcoming advisory board meeting, and then a recap of what we've been up to this past year.

Please join us at our



Saturday February 3rd

Registration 11:30 am

Meeting & streaming starts at noon sharp until 4 pm

Location: St. Paul's Anglican Church

70 Clyde St, Almonte, ON K0A 1A0


If you are coming IN PERSON or

If you plan to join us via LIVESTREAM

After months of planning, this is finally it! If you have already reached out to us to express interest in volunteering as an advisory board member, this is your call back. If you have not already reached out to us, but think you might want to help out in some way, then there's still time to get involved.

GV is a huge project with many arms. We've been working really hard to develop a plan that will utilize all our resources in the best way possible. This event will share our strategic plan for moving forward, and help us determine how you can jump in to help.

Please note that this is not a general public event. This meeting is specifically for folks who are already aware of the project and are ready to roll up their sleeves and dive in. For more information, please visit

We also intend to live stream the event, if the technology and internet service will cooperate. But please don't count on that. You should really try to plan to be there in person if you can. Refreshments will be served.

Please RSVP even if you think you could only attend via live video streaming. It is really important that you let us know if you can make it so we know how many helpers to prepare for. If you still wish to help, but know you cannot attend this event, please contact [email protected] to let us know you are interested.

We hope to see you there!

A very special chi miigwetch to the Mississippi Mills All My Relations

group for organizing the Eventbrite registration and for providing the refreshments. Chi miigwetch also to St. Paul's United Church for donating the space for us to hold this event.

Ginawaydaganuc Village recap

Ginawaydaganuc Village (GV) (est. 2022) is an Indigenous-led non-profit organization based in Almonte, Ontario, with a mission to construct an eco-sensitive, education and tourist centre rooted in our cultural heritage and guided by principles of self-sufficiency, sustainability, and community empowerment. GV is committed to providing job opportunities, housing solutions, economic development, cultural sharing and educational opportunities to help repair and prepare the way for the seven generations to come.

Ginawaydaganuc is an Algonquin word, the essence of which means ‘we/all things are connected’. The name was chosen to honour the late Algonquin Elder William Commanda. The Spirit of Ginawaydaganuc speaks to our intrinsic relationship to Mother Earth — her land, air and waters — as well as to the cosmos, and, of course, to each other. Ginawaydaganuc is the thread that connects ALL cultures, ALL peoples, and all things together. The concept of Ginawaydaganuc is intentionally woven into the development of this initiative through relationship building, healing through inclusivity, and environmentally conscious practices.

GV’s business structure was designed with our medicine wheel teachings in mind, which also embrace the principles of Ginawaydaganuc. GV’s non-profit organization acts as the umbrella governing the entire “wheel”, with the Elder’s Lodge and the GV Academy as the central fire that feeds energy to the rest of the structure. The remaining space will be leased by separate but mutually beneficial business entities who, by their nature, will help reinforce the overall structure and provide opportunities for reciprocity and healthy growth. Key entities include a restaurant, hotel, retail space, conference and workshop space.

GV intends to provide a stable, inclusive, affordable, and prosperous environment where all can thrive. We firmly believe the co-existence and reciprocal relationships created here will ensure the entire village becomes strong and sustainable. This venue is sure to provide truly unique, life-changing experiences while standing out as a beacon for social and economic ingenuity and a role model for environmentally sound economic expansion.

What we accomplished in 2023

In the summer of 2022, we were awarded a grant from Indigenous Tourism Ontario. This allowed us hire globally acclaimed Master Architect Douglas Cardinal to compile the conceptual architectural designs for our project. In January of 2023 we launched our website

On March 26, 2023, with financial support from the Township Mississippi Mills Bi-centennial Committee, we publicly launched our project with a Community Information Session held at the old Almonte Town Hall. CLICK HERE TO SEE THE REPORT AND PHOTOS FROM THAT EVENT.

We also made this special video about the project:

Ginawaydaganuc Village - The Elders Speak

Ginawaydaganuc Village - The Elders Speak

On June 21st, Indigenous Day, we also held a Pancake Breakfast in June at the St. Paul's Church hall.

During the six months following that event, we buckled down, got busy writing grants, worked on our strategic business plan, and hired several key staff members, including:

Kyra Knapp

Economic Development Officer

After our exciting launch party last March at the Old Almonte Town Hall, we got to work looking for a professional to take our business plan to the next level. Kyra Knapp was highly recommended to us by senior staff at Indigenous Tourism Ontario. She has worked successfully with a number of First Nations bands and Indigenous organizations across the country in a similar capacity. We were so impressed by her, and she was so impressed by our project that we ended up hiring her on permanently as our Economic Development Officer. Kyra has been hard at work helping us develop our strategic business plans and grant writing up a storm! Thanks to Kyra's efforts, we're now ready to launch our advisory board on February 3rd. But we'll get back to that in a minute.

Current status of land acquisition for the project

This is the all-important question on everyone's lips. The short answer is - not yet. Shortly after the meeting last March, we were approached by a local couple who own a beautiful 327 acre farm just 3 km from Almonte's downtown core. They were eager to see Ginawaydaganuc Village purchase their land for our project and we were thrilled by the prospect. It is indeed a prime piece of land and would, in so very many ways, be extremely suitable for our needs. So we spent quite a bit of time over the past few months analyzing this possibility. However, our intensive research revealed that the land is indeed so precious that there are a great many layers of complications due to zoning, scientific interest, and also lack of funding that currently stand in the way making this happen. So much so that its now looking like this option may likely be off the books unless someone is able to pull a rabbit out of a hat for us. We had hoped we would have better news to launch the new year with but we haven't given up hope that the right property will turn up when it is meant to do so. In the meantime, we continue to have eyes out looking for other suitable property and hope that the addition of an advisory board sub-committee focused on this will help.

RoxAnne Darling

Community Engagement Officer

This brings us to the announcement of the hiring of RoxAnne Darling as our new Community Engagement Officer. Roxanne is a proud member of the Bay of Quinte Mohawk Nation. She turned up on our radar just a couple of months ago and has been instrumental in helping us get much more clarity around the red tape associated with the above mentioned piece of land. Roxanne has many years of experience in public service as a Municipal Councilor, and also has a lot of experience working for companies devoted to strategic planning. She is a real gem and we are grateful to have found her.

Krystal Abotossaway

HR Consultant

During 2023, we were blessed by the referral to the brilliant Krystal Abotossaway, a member of Rama First Nation. Krystal is an HR specialist who works full-time for TD Bank in Toronto. She is passionate about our project and has been helping us get the ball rolling for the past few months. Those of you who are interested joining our advisory board will be getting to know Krystal as she will assisting with the onboarding process.

GV on the hunt for a high-caliber

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

This is another big step forward for us! Our Interim CEO and founding Executive Director Karen Bisson has worn many hats and worked very hard for the past two years to help launch the GV vision and create the foundation for its future. We are extremely grateful for all she has done and continues to do to help steer the ship. She will remain on the Board of Directors but has made it clear all along that her position as Interim CEO was a temporary one, (Karen's time is stretched between her commitment to GV and work as CEO for her own company) and is determined to help us find an experienced an experienced go-getter for the long term. She believes that GV is now ready for a full-time dedicated CEO. Karen will be assisting with the search and onboarding of the new CEO, and hopes this exciting project will attract someone of the highest caliber and integrity.

Position Overview:

Ginawaydaganuc Village is seeking a dynamic and visionary leader to serve as its first formal Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Reporting to the Board of Directors, the CEO will be responsible for providing strategic direction, organizational leadership, and fostering strong community partnerships to achieve the organization's mission and vision.

Key Responsibilities:

Leadership and Governance: Provide consistent leadership to the organization, supporting the Board of Directors in fulfilling its policy and governance function. Develop and execute strategic plans, ensuring alignment with the organization's core values and community objectives.

Community Engagement: Foster strong and respectful collaboration between the organization, community members, stakeholders, and government agencies. Champion the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility (EDI&A), and reconciliation, ensuring they are integrated into all aspects of the organization.

Operational Excellence: Oversee day-to-day operations, including housing programs, economic development initiatives, educational programs, and other community services. Ensure effective financial management, budgetary oversight, and donor stewardship... CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS AND INSTRUCTIONS TO APPLY.

Welcome Board Member

Larry McDermott

We are thrilled to announce that Algonquin Elder Larry McDermott has joined our board of directors. There are not too many people in this neck of the woods who don't already know who Larry is because he has been deeply involved in many community initiatives and has presided at many local events. Larry is Algonquin from Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation, and is the Executive Director of Plenty Canada. Larry is currently a member of numerous organizations including the International Indigenous Forum for Biodiversity, Ontario Biodiversity Council, the Ontario Professional Foresters Association, the Healing Place partnership, the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Network, and serves on the Lanark County Safety and Well-Being Plan. A former three-time Mayor and long-time council member of Lanark Highlands, was the first Chair of the Rural Forum of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, was a Commissioner for the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and was on the Ontario Species at Risk Public Advisory Committee and provincial and national recovery teams for the American Eel. Larry also served as a comprehensive claim representative for Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation, is a certified tree marker and butternut assessor, and holds other environmental certifications. He has also received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Guelph. Larry was a humble student for many years of the late Algonquin Elder, Grandfather William Commanda, who created the Circle of All Nations organization. Larry lives in a 170-year-old log home on 500 acres of biologically diverse Algonquin land along the Mississippi River with his wife Nancy.

Welcome Board Member

Chuck Commanda

We are equally excited to announce the arrival of Chuck Commanda to our board. Chuck is an Algonquin from Kitigan Zibi Anishabeg First Nation. He is a birch bark canoe maker taught at a young age by his grandparents, Mary and William Commanda. Most of his work takes him to schools where he works to instill the Seven Sacred Teachings in the younger generations while building canoes from raw materials. Chuck is happy to be on the board of directors to support the development of the vision for Ginawaydaganuc Village.  

Miigwetch and Farewell to Romola Thumbadoo

One of our founding directors, Romola Thumbadoo, has resigned from the board to devote her busy schedule to her work at Carleton University, her Children's Mapping project, and serving the William Commanda legacy through Circle of All Nations work. We thank her for her time and service and sincerely wish her well with her future endeavors.

With respect and gratitude

from the Ginawaydaganuc Village Board of Directors:

Barb Brant, John Henri Commanda, Karen Bisson,

Larry McDermott, and Chuck Commanda

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