Wayne Mixemong: indomitable spirit
AWARE News Network
Another Site 41 warrior has left us.
Wayne Mixemong of Beausoleil First Nation passed away suddenly on January 13 2021, in his 67th year.
He will be remembered by other veterans of the Site 41 battle to prevent a dump site being built atop the world’s purest water – for his indomitable spirit and unquenchable optimism, always ready with a joke to rally those who wondered if victory would ever come.
“Wayne was just a super guy, he would give you the shirt off his back, he was that kind of guy,” said his friend, AWARE Simcoe chair Don Morgan.
Don and Wayne would breakfast together at Uncle Roy’s Restaurant in Midland. The last time they talked – their get-togethers more recently on the phone because of the pandemic – was less than a week before Wayne died. “He was a delight to talk to, he had the most infectious laugh,” Don recalled.
Wayne and his nephew James were firekeepers at the Site 41 camp, set up in May 2009 and bringing together people from various First Nations, farmers, cottagers, local residents and supporters from across the province. His brother Pelly would come to the camp to drum with Wayne and the youth. His sister Beverly was also a regular, sharing her knowledge of indigenous spirituality.
The people prevailed in October 2009, when Simcoe County Council voted to cancel the project.
Wayne worked for many years at Franke Kindred, as a forklift operator.
Great sadness came at a shameful time in Midland’s history, when his brother Andrew “Fudd” Mixemong died in July, 2012 after being beaten behind Dino’s Deli by two men, when he intervened to stop them harassing his wife.
Wayne and other family members attended the 10-week trial at the Barrie court house in 2015. Emotional statements about their loss brought the jury to tears. Don Morgan also attended almost every day of the trial. The two accused were convicted of second-degree murder and manslaughter, respectively.
Wayne was rooted in his indigenous identity. He would don the regalia and dance at pow pows – and share his knowledge with all who would listen. “He knew a lot of history,” Don said. Wayne assisted Don’s daughter Sarah in her work on a master’s thesis about Site 41.
“Wayne’s Indigenous knowledge was vast and his involvement in advancing his Indigenous history was huge,” she said. “Going on the pow wow trail was so important.”
She recounted his infectious smile, laugh and humour. He was always positive and never spoke ill of anyone even though he had memories of extreme racial issues when he was younger, particularly in stores and at school.
“His kindness and empathy for others was so very special, always wanting to support the under dog,” she said. “He was just so honest in what he said.”