Adolph Rasevych – A life remembered

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Adolph Rasevych

Adolph RasevychTHUNDER BAY – The family would like to announce the passing of Adolph Rasevych at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre on January 22, 2015 at the age of 76. He is survived by his wife Judy Rasevych (Dore), with whom he would have celebrated a 51st wedding anniversary on January 25. The couple have been together since 1962, when they resided as youths in the Town of Longlac. They were married in 1964.

Dearest father of Linda Dichomeit (Mark), Peter, Anthony, Jason (Misty), Kirsten (Cheyenne), and Jonathan. He is also survived by his beloved grandchildren Max (15) and Megan (13), Anawtyn (11), Nathaniel (11), Lacey (10) and Kane (7). He is survived by his two brothers and a sister: Alfred, Tony, and Nancy. He is predeceased by his sister Millie, and by both of his parents.

Adolph Rasevych began his life in Peterbell, Ontario (near Hornepayne). His mother Emma Rasevych (Pootoosh) was a Cree person from the James Bay region, where she met Ukrainian immigrant Peter Rasevych who was a CN Rail employee. The couple resided in Peterbell, but then relocated their family to Longlac where Adolph attended Marjorie Mills Public School in the 1940’s before graduating from Geraldton Composite High School in 1955.

Adolph Rasevych was a CN Rail employee in Longlac from the time he was 16 years old (1954). He began performing freight and baggage duties, and was promoted to dispatch eventually. By the early 1960’s, he was stationed in various locations outside of Longlac including Armstrong, Hillsport, and even Toronto. He married Judy Dore in 1964, and the couple left Longlac as a result of his employment with CN Rail to reside in Capreol, Sudbury, Toronto, North Bay, Moncton, Pembroke and finally Montreal in 1974. The family relocated to Toronto in 1978 and then back to Montreal in 1986.

During the 1970’s and 80’s while living in Montreal and Toronto, Adolph was promoted to the CN Rail Regional Transportation Department and performed duties and responsibilities as a member of senior staff (System Design Officer) for regional engineering officers in managing their annual rail program and expenditures. He started a video project in 1980 that looked at CN Rail mainline trackage from Capreol to Armstrong, which is now utilized in a much wider capacity than originally planned.

While living in Montreal in the 1980’s, Adolph was also an accomplished marathon runner, being able to run the event in just over 3.5 hours or even less. He participated in long-distance running events such as marathons from Prince Edward Island, to Montreal, to Kamloops.

In 1986, as a result of the passing of Bill C-31, Adolph and all of his children attained Certificate of Indian Status due to the fact that his mother Emma had been enfranchised when she married his father. In the next decade he then transferred his band membership from Brunswick House First Nation (near Chapleau) to Ginoogaming First Nation, in anticipation of what was to follow (his return home to Longlac).

Adolph retired from the CN Rail in 1993 at the age of 55, after 39 years of service as a senior executive residing in Montreal. As he considered his retirement options, the Oka Crisis of 1990 influenced his decision making process. Following the events at Kahnawake and Kanehsatake, supporting these communities in their actions, and living in Montreal through the 1990 events ignited his drive to assist First Nations in Ontario in their pursuit of equality and community development as well as the settlement of land negotiations and grievances.

As a result, Adolph relocated his family back to Longlac in 1993. He commenced a second career as Ginoogaming First Nation Economic Development Officer,a position he held to October 2014 in senior advisor capacity. He worked closely with Chief Gabriel Echum to pursue several legal battles for the community (1998 Ontario Hydro Settlement, and the Ginoogaming First Nation Timber Claim Trust process). The community developed at a rapid pace when a groundbreaking agreement with Long Lake Forest Products was reached in 1993, whereby 80% First Nations employment rate was enjoyed.

Adolph secured funding and designed the innovative Aboriginal Workforce Development & Maintenance Program (AWDMP), which began in 1996 and assisted in the training of life skills for mill employees and with job retention, life skills coaching, and personal counselling components. He was a tireless worker in assisting the mill workforce that consisted of all Longlac community people, in retaining their jobs.

Some of this project that he conducted, as well as interviews with Adolph, can be viewed in the following short video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs77p0VO6_E

Adolph was also instrumental in assisting with the design, development and organization of Ginoogaming First Nation’s plans and eventual successful completion of the Nimiki Migizi Secondary School (1999) and the Ginoogaming First Nation Aboriginal Head Start Program which was housed in a newly completed building in the community in the mid-1990’s.

Adolph also laid the groundwork for the Making Ground River Development Corporation (1999), as well as the Rocky Shore Development Corporation (2009), both of which won Nishnawbe-Aski Development Fund (NADF) awards for First Nation Corporation of the Year. A Ginoogaming First Nation trucking company, a gaming facility, a restaurant, community taxi, and other contracts were managed by these corporations.

Adolph always believed in providing the First Nation youth with recreational opportunities by fundraising through the community gaming operations that support the community members’ participation in the annual Ginoogaming First Nation Winterhawks hockey team tournaments (eg. Little NHL). He also gave people a chance to gain employment at a young age through work in the community bingo hall which he managed, and was known for his smile, jokes and his baking at the canteen as well as his bingo calling skills.

Adolph grew up in Longlac as a hunter, fisher, and trapper all his childhood and youth years. As an adult, he continued this lifestyle into the 1970’s and 80’s through summer and winter visits to a family trapline area in Arms (near Caramat). He was a renowned marksman for moose hunting, at times donating entire moose to community feasts or gatherings. He never utilized a scope on any rifle yet was a perfect shot, and he could take moose from far distances across lakes with his .303 British rifle which he used his entire life.

Adolph pursued traditional Anishnawbe trapping activities every season and passed on his knowledge of the land to family and friends, or whoever would go out to the bush with him. Trapping became a year-round lifestyle for him and his children and grandchildren.

Adolph was successful in a legal dispute with the OMNR over his construction of a trapline cabin on the family’s traditional territory. The “David vs Goliath” battle that he won helped to highlight and protect First Nation individual constitutional Aboriginal and treaty rights. He was very proud of his trapline cabin and his trapping, and he spent much of his leisure time paddling the lakes and hiking the trails on the family’s trapping territory.

Adolph Rasevych loved his family, and supported them in any way that he could. He was always there for his six children and his six grandchildren. He extended this caring to his community work as a “man of the people.” He was a people-person who wanted to be around people to help them in any way that he could. He functioned as Ginoogaming First Nation Powwow Coordinator in the 1990’s, helping to operate not only the community’s annual celebration but also planning Elders instruction for spiritual activities such as sweat lodges and shaking tent ceremonies as well as Elder’s workshops.

Adolph was a very excitable person who was entertaining to be around. He had a keen sense of humour and could always cheer others up with his jokes. He was known for his playful antics. He was also known for his love to cook. He made excellent stir-fry, soups, pancakes, banana bread and muffins, barbecued steaks, stew and dumplings, cabbage rolls, borscht, perogies, pies, cakes, moose meat, and bannock. He also loved to tell very interesting stories about his adventures (and misadventures) in the bush. He will be greatly missed.

Friends and family will be received on Tuesday, January 27 at Everest of Thunder Bay Funeral Chapel (299 Waverly Street, at the corner of Algoma Street) for visitation (5-8 pm).

The funeral ceremony celebrating Adolph’s life will be held on Wednesday, January 28 (1:00 pm) at the same Everest of Thunder Bay location.

Adolph will be cremated and his ashes will be taken to Longlac by his wife Judy, where they will be buried at the Longlac Cemetery.

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Peter Rasevych is a Ginoogaming First Nation band member who also has family roots in Long Lake #58 First Nation, as well as Fort William First Nation. He is an avid trapper, fisherman, and hunter on his family’s traditional territory near Longlac, in northwestern Ontario. He is also a fully licensed children’s hockey, soccer, and lacrosse coach. He was born in Toronto, Ontario and was raised there as well as in Montreal, Quebec. As a youth, Peter attended high school in the Town of Pickering (near Toronto) as well as at Riverdale High School (in Montreal). He graduated from John Abbott College (a CEGEP in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec) with a DEC (Diploma D’Etudes Collegiales) in Social Sciences after studying there from 1989-91. He attained Honour Roll status for three of his four semesters there. He was then awarded with a Bachelor of Arts Degree (BA in English) from McGill University (Montreal) in 1994, after three years of study there. After travelling across Canada and living and working in the bush, he later attended Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, where he graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Arts (HBA in English) in 1998, as well as a Master’s Degree (MA in English) in 2001, where he completed a thesis which was published by the National Library of Canada. Peter’s research focus on traditional First Nations spiritual values, beliefs and culture led him to pursue a PhD in Natural Resources Management at Lakehead University from 2009-12. His research was centred on traditional Anishnawbe spiritual knowledge as it relates to the land, water, and animals. He has also worked for many years in First Nations community development, education, and human and social development at the local band office level on Ginoogaming First Nation, as well as at the tribal council level (Matawa First Nations), and also at the provincial territorial level (OSHKI, for Nishnawbe-Aski Nation). He has taught post-secondary courses for Confederation College (Negahneewin College) in Thunder Bay, in addition to instructing for courses at Lakehead University (Indigenous Learning, English, and Social Work). In addition to articles, his writing interests include research reports, essays, and creative outlets such as short stories, poetry, songs, and short novels. His interests include traditional Anishnawbe spirituality, and camping/living out in the bush as he has done with family since the age of 4.