An Open Invitation in Celebration of the Water
June 26th, 2006 --   7p.m.

Lighting of the Sacred Fire and Ceremony with Aboriginal Elder Dave Courchene Jr.,
Nii Ganni Aki Inini (Leading Earth Man), Anishnabe Nation, Eagle Clan.

To be held on Location at:   The Argonaut Rowing Club, 1225 Lakeshore Blvd. West, Toronto, Ontario

R.S.V.P.  416-533-3020 or email inquiries to

Biography: Dave Courchene Jr. (Leading Earth Man):
Nii Gaani Aki Inini, a leader who has descended from a long line of  leaders and chiefs of his people, the First Nations people of Turtle Island (America).  He learned the significance of the fire through a  personal and spiritual quest for truth. Through the mentorship and the spiritual direction of the Elders, he was guided back to the ceremonies  of his people. The Elders helped him realize that First Nations people,  despite enduring generations of profound suffering, scarcity and hardship as a result of being displaced from their original connection  to the land and a spiritual way of life, have survived because of the  strength of the human spirit. The mentorship of the Elders provided Nii  Gaani Aki Inini with inspiration, support, guidance and perspective on  reaching a higher spiritual understanding, and a sense of the deep,  sacred connection we have to the land.
First Nations Messenger:

Taking on the ancient First Nations role as a Messenger of Peace, Nii  Gaani Aki Inini has spent the last twenty-five years carrying the torch  as he has worked to bring his vision into physical reality. Living in a century which has seen some of the greatest suffering in human history, he has faced many challenges. Nii Gaani Aki Inin, through his role as a leader of sacred First Nations ceremonies. His greatest focus has been to inspire young people of all nations, races and faiths to find and
follow their own visions.

"Long ago our people always followed a vision. That was why they were so connected to the Spirit and the land. Whenever the Spirit gives a vision to an individual it always becomes a vision for the collective. It always leads to a vision of peace for humankind. You must remain firm in your belief in your vision. You must never give it up. (2002)"

Nii Gaani Aki Inini has and continues to share his understanding of  First Nations wisdom and teachings in First Nations communities throughout Turtle Island (or North America), to serve the needs of these communities in Canada and the United States.

Nii Gaani Aki Inini conducts First Nations traditional ceremonies to revive, renew, and sustain the spirit of all people. Nii Gaani Aki Inini recognises that youths are the future, and he has held many Youth Gatherings throughout Canada and the United States, to provide youths with knowledge to lead a balanced life.

As time permits, Nii Gaani Aki Inini has been an invited speaker on wide ranging issues related to the First Nations communities, including issues of education, First Nations traditions; the environment; health and First Nations medicine; peace; First Nations spirituality; First Nations governance and decision-making, and other issues.

Nii Gaani Aki Inini has been an invited speaker at several academic institutions, including the University of Toronto; York University, and Trent University; as well as other public forums.

In 1992, Nii Gaani Aki Inini was invited to speak at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where world leaders gathered, out of imminent concerns over environmental destruction around the globe.

In 1994, Nii Gaani Aki Inini was invited to the Middle East made a journey to Israel, where he led a gathering of all races at the foot of the Kumeran Caves by the Dead Sea, meeting and entering ceremony with Israelis and Palestinians alike.

June 1995, Nii Gaani Aki Inini was invited speaker at the international conference entitled 'The Gathering for Human and Ecological Security: A Conference on Population, Environment and Peace' (GHES) held in Manila, Phillipines.

In 1995, Nii Gaani Aki Inini was invited to Japan by the University of  Tokyo, where he spoke on Earth issues and the environment.

August 2000, Nii Gaani Aki Inini was an invited speaker at the 2000 Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, hosted by the United Nations in New York, USA .

Regular Television Advisory Work:

Nii Gaani Aki Inini serves as the First Nations spiritual advisor to a well-known Canadian television program, 'The Sharing Circle', that inspires peace and shares the stories of Indigenous people.

Nii Gaani Aki Inini is also the First Nations spiritual advisor to a children's television series, 'Tipi Tales', a program that models a peaceful way of life for young people, based on Indigenous ancestral teachings.

Both these programs can be viewed on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN). More details on these programs can be found on the internet via the web-page titled Links.

Special Documentaries

Nii Gaani Aki Inini has been invited to participate in the making of a number of television special documentaries, including:

Harry Rasky television documentary, titled "The Prophecy", which documented Nii Gaani Aki Inini work in the Middle East, and outlined the First Nations prophecies concerning the care of the Earth and Environment.

'Red Man's Vision: Building of The Turtle Lodge', which documented the building of The Turtle Lodge. This television documentary aired on APTN in 2002.

'Manitou Api - Where The Creator Sat', which documented the dream vision for the turtle lodge. This television documentary aired on the 'CBC Sunday' program, on October 13, 2002.

Theatre Productions

FrontRunners is a play documenting the true story of ten First Nations runners who carried the olympic-like Torch in 1967, from St. Paul Minnesota to Winnipeg, Manitoba spanning a distance of over 800 km, for the Opening of the Pan American Games in Winnipeg. Upon arriving at the gates of the stadium, the final runner, Dave Courchene Jr. (Nii Gaani Aki Inini), was stopped, and the Torch taken from him. The ten First Nations runners were excluded from the Opening Ceremonies. From a small restaurant across the street from the stadium, the First Nations runners watched on television the lighting of the Flame for the Games by a White runner.

Thirty-two years later, in 1999, when the Pan American Games returned to Winnipeg, Dave Courchene Jr. and the other First Nations runners were invited to take a place of honour, bringing the Torch into the stadium. There they passed the flame to a young First Nations athlete who subsequently lit the Flame for the Games.

This story is symbolic of the struggles, oppression and marginalization of First Nations people in their own Homeland, and, more importantly, the continued perseverance, strength and survival of a people who have remained true to their ancient peaceful way of life. For Dave Courchene Jr. (Nii Gaani Aki Inini), the Flame he carried as a youth, represented the spirit of his ancestors.

For further information on Dave Courchene Jr. visit
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