We Are Handy's Business of the Month

A special THANK YOU to Handy’s for making the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi their Business of the Month!! Check it out below!

Handy Car's Business of the Month: Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi

Handy Cars BOTM- September Issue

Who are the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi?

For more than 25 years the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi, St Francis/Sokoki Band and its nonprofit arm, Maquam Bay of Missisquoi Inc have been serving the children, women, and families of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi centered in Franklin County, Vermont. The Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi is the longest continuous kinship-related Abenaki tribal community in existence in the United States. Our relationship to our traditional homelands is acknowledged by both the State of Vermont and by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge is named for our tribal homeland and recognizes the history and continuing connection between the Abenaki Nation and the plants, land, waterways, and wildlife that comprise the refuge. Since receiving our 501c3 nonprofit status in 2015, Maquam Bay of Missisquoi diligently works to maintain our Indigenous cultural knowledge, protect our places of historical, ecological, and spiritual significance, and strengthen the overall health and wellness of our people and community.

How did the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi organization come to be?

The Abenaki people have been living on the land now known as Vermont for thousands of years. In the 1970s, the Missisquoi Abenaki began a movement to bring recognition to the Abenaki people of Vermont. In 2012, Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi (St. Francis / Sokoki Tribe) received state recognition in Vermont.

The Abenaki have a rich history. Does the organization do much with it?

Many of our citizens practice traditional arts, gardening, singing and dancing and we periodically ask them to come to our office to teach their skills to others. It is critically important for this knowledge and skills to be passed on to the next generation.

How many people are currently in the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi?

Currently, we have over 4,000 Tribal card holders. We have 2 governing boards. Maquam Bay of Missisquoi Inc, which operates the finances and consists of 9 board members, and our Tribal Council, which contains 7 and our Chief.

What would you say is your mission statement?

Maquam Bay of Missisquoi Inc diligently works to sustain and nourish our indigenous cultural knowledge to protect our places of historical, ecological and spiritual significance, and to strengthen the overall health and wellness of our people and community.

Can you tell us about the Food Pantry?

Our pantry was launched in 2015 due to the critical need among Abenaki Elders, children and families for increased access to healthy and nutritious food. Our pantry currently provides assistance to over 500 clients each month. We survive solely on funding of grants and donations. A difficult task when client numbers are growing monthly due to the high cost of groceries and folks trying to survive on fixed incomes. We work closely with the Vermont Foodbank, local grocery stores, and partner with Feeding America. If you would ever like to take a tour or meet our team, please feel free to call our Food Pantry Manager, Debbie Dubois Lavoie at (802) 868-6255 for more information!

Can you tell us a bit about the tribal garden?

In 2022, we grew some traditional crops in the Swanton Community Garden. These included Gaspe corn, Montpelier Squash, cranberry beans, and sunflowers. The corn, beans and squash were grown using the traditional mound system. Before the seeds were planted in the spring, a blessing ceremony was held and then everyone worked together to plant the seeds. We used the community garden because we don't have land on which we can grow crops, but we hope that sometime in the future we will be able to change that and have a place for us to begin growing crops for our community.

What kind of services does the organization provide?

Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention, Intervention and Healing: Voices Against Violence enables advocacy and access to transitional housing for community members. Vermont Crime Victim Services STOP program enables community advocacy and direct service violence prevention, as well as community-based intervention and healing programs. Learn more by reaching out to our Advocate/ Outreach Coordinator: Michele Bessette at (802) 782-3843 or michele.bessette@abenakination.com

COVID Clinic (ran by VT Dept. of Health) is offered on the last Monday of each month. Please contact Faith DuBois, Community Health Worker, for any questions at (802) 868-2559 or faith.dubois@abenakination.com

Other Services:

  • Food Pantry
  • Hub for Age Well (for meal pick-ups on Monday)
  • Vermont Adult Learning
  • Hypertension & Diabetes Workshops
  • Tribal Cards

And various other Events around the community like Health & Wellness Fair, Cultural Events, Family Programming, Chair Yoga/Meditation, Birdwatching classes, Chill program (skateboarding/snowboarding for youth), Cooking Classes, and many more!

Our newest project is the renovation of our back building. We hope to have a classroom setting for workshops on Abenaki cultures & lectures. We are also hoping for a community room to hold our Harvest dinner and gatherings, as well as housing our cultural artifacts. Please check out our website abenakination.com or our Facebook page Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi for information on upcoming events!

If you wish to contribute, you can do so by contacting Debbie Dubois Lavoie at (802) 868-6255 or  debbie.lavoie@abenakination.com!

Your support is the key to helping our community. We appreciate your consideration.