Preparing for Orange Shirt Day 2022

There is little doubt that Orange Shirt Day (Sept. 30th, 2021) will be far different in its intensity than any other experienced by the Indigenous Peoples and Canadians in general than ever before. Past trauma is being relived, the hearts of our Nations are swollen with pain and sorrow! The number of unmarked graves of innocent Indigenous children who perished within the walls of John A. Macdonald’s Residential Schools grows in its tally with each passing week. Warren Kinsella, a former advisor to prime ministers and today a celebrated writer with The Sun newspaper chain predicts that by the end of the search for children graves, the count will be as high as 35,000. Bill Curry (Toronto Star) investigated deaths in Residential Schools many years ago and estimated that over 50,000 children died in the schools. Time is short for the making of plans which fully speak to how our collective hearts are processing all of this. Many people are hurting! Thankfully we, the Indigenous Peoples, need not look too far to find human beings, not of our culture or heritage, offering our communities sincere words of sympathy and actions supporting what we want to do in the way of bringing peace and healing for all who are in despair.

I believe that we should begin to plan now for Orange Shirt Day 2022. The good people living in unceded, never surrendered Algonquin Territory want to stand in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples at this time of reflection and contemplation. Our friends and allies of varying skin colours are eager to help us (Indigenous People) to realize whatever plans we make to honour all children who suffered untold miseries and death in “the place where our children went to die”.

I propose that a ‘grassroots’ movement occur! One where the ‘People’ do what they think is right in creating awareness for those Canadians who are ignorant of this country’s brutal and tragic past. To bring them with us to that time when Canada rounded up the most pure, the most innocent of human beings and took them to a place designed to destroy, emotionally and spiritually, children, whose only crime was to be born from people who had lived on these resource-rich lands for thousands of years. Many of the children who survived left the schools feeling as if they had been mentally crucified. A big number of them finished off their lives broken in spirit, never getting the opportunity to give purpose to their lives.

Pamela Naymark, a young married woman and mother of two youngsters, and I are working together to raise money through the sale of shirts (which I designed) to fund initiatives generated to assist in a day of remembrance (September 30, 2022) for the kids who died in the schools. Pamela hopes that this initiative will become a commemoration that has the potential to include activities to encourage advocacy and advance reconciliation.

To be very clear, no one, but no one is profiting from this venture. Not even a nickel from this initiative is going into anyone’s pocket. I myself am buying several shirts and will pay full price for them. We ask readers of this blog to reach out and give us (Pamela and I) your idea on how the money raised should be spent. Examples could be a play acted out by Algonquin band members or a poetry night where poems composed by Algonquins (and other Indigenous Peoples) speaking to how a child might have felt to be uprooted from their loving home and taken by force to one of Macdonald’s schools.

A new dawn is on the horizon! It is present and is being embraced by all Peoples who understand that the new day of healing is now upon us. Let us not give thoughts of turning our backs to it. Let us ask ourselves what the children who suffered and died at the schools would counsel us to do at this time.

To order your shirt contact Pamela Naymark at pnaymark@gmail.com.

They are available in youth and adult sizes. Languages: Algonquin, English and French. Suggested donation is $30. Anyone who wishes can donate more than the $30 price per shirt. Students and people who do not have the means to pay the full amount can contact Pamela to work something out.

Keep the Circle Strong,

South Wind (Albert Dumont)

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Poetry Contest: I am a Human Being

As the English Poet Laureate for the City of Ottawa, I am announcing today the commencement of an extraordinary poetry contest. All poets residing within the perimeters of the City of Ottawa or living in any of the Algonquin communities recognized by the Government of Canada as having rights as “Status Indians” are welcome to submit their poems into the contest for the consideration of a juror. The poets will express in a poem, their definition of what it is to be a human being. The title of the poem “I am a Human Being” may describe what occurs in the human heart when ‘love’ between two people is realized or tell about the stamina, eloquence and beauty of the human spirit. The poem you compose can perhaps speak of experiences you encountered in your lifetime which promote emotional wellness for the downtrodden or point to what it is, creating love and unconditional support for family members and for the dearest of friends. If you believe that ‘water is life’ and that all living things have rights, then express how you feel about that in a poem as only a human being can. Ultimately, it is your choice to make. You, as a poet, will decide the contents of your poem, describing in your own words what it is to be a human being. Don’t miss out on this rare opportunity to get involved in making Ottawa a greater city. Get out your paper and pen!

Submission guidelines:  
•  up to 20 lines of poetry (1 poem per participant)
•  submit poem in ‘word’ or ‘pages’ format (written in English)
•  submit to PoeticWaters@outlook.com
•  Deadline: September 15, 2021 midnight
•  Announcement of winners: October 1, 2021  
•  First prize is $300, second prize $200 and 5 runner-ups at $100 each.
Total prize money being offered $1,000!

The 100 best poems will be published in a book of poetry titled “I AM A HUMAN BEING”. The book will be sold with 100% of the proceeds going towards the promotion of poetry as a medicine and healer, not only for the citizens of Ottawa but for lovers of poetry wherever they are found.

Amazing wonders can come into your life as a poet. I urge you to write more poetry! Do it for healing’s sake. Do it as a special medicine. Let poetry become something of your medicine bag. Poetry can bring surprises into your life. It did for me!

Check out the poem I wrote to introduce the festivities for Canada Day. Here is the link: Canada Day 2021. I am so very proud of this special moment in my life! I believe Canadian Heritage took a bold stand in asking me, yes a poet but also a hardcore human rights activist, to compose a poem for this year’s Canada Day celebrations. It doesn’t pull any punches!

Keep the Circle Strong,

South Wind (Albert Dumont)

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Congratulations – Poetry Contest Winners

Algonquin poets were challenged to compose a poem titled “Why Poetry is Medicine for the Soul”

I am very pleased to announce the winners of the poetry contest I put forward on May 28, 2021. 

Celine Whiteduck took first prize

Stéphanie Meunier took second prize

I am extremely proud of these two emerging poets. All of us who embrace poetry as ‘Medicine for the Soul’ should encourage Celine and Stéphanie to keep writing.

Here are the winning poems:

My Truth
by Celine Whiteduck

The gentle whisper of words
that fall unto my pen 
and ever so gently unto
the page allows me 
to speak my truth

They share the emotions
that embody my heart
and my senses as they 
reach my mind to find 
the words

Each sense alive embraces
the beauty that surrounds
me and speaks to 
me ever so gently
so that I can embody
this truth

Each word expressing the
gentle flow of my connection
with the world around
me and shares the distinction 
between what is me 
and what is not me

The connection is where 
the true beauty lies
as the connection is 
my own lived experience 
uniquely my own truth

Words are the vehicle
that share my relationship 
to this time and space
The words allow the
connection to gently take 
shape and form and 
have a home 

Why poetry is medicine for the soul
by Stéphanie Meunier

Why poetry is medicine for the soul?
Because everything you lived needs to be told
A blank page is a friend who wants to hear your story
From the beginning till the end
Nice talking may be an art
But writing is the language of the heart

If you were filled with emotions and wrote it down
You might be surprised of what you’ve found
You have some treasures of nice memories inside you
Like gems that just waits for you to remember about them

Here is a poem I wrote:

Poetry: Medicine for the Soul
Albert Dumont ©

On words, reaching into
Our minds, hearts and spirits, we travel
Floating on their poetic stanzas
To the branches of the tallest pine trees
We see on the distant horizon

We imagine ourselves there, at peace
Sitting by the side of a majestic raven
We submerge ourselves into the untold generations
Of wisdom, kept well by the raven
And see that words can become as medicines
We can bring gently into our hearts
To chase forever away, the rage
Placed there, because of our neglect
Of the spiritual bundles
Left in our care by our ancestors

Keep the Circle Strong,

South Wind

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SJAM Parkway – Hit the Road!

Dear Friends,

I know that a vast number of Canada’s citizens will never condemn their first prime minister for any wrongs he is guilty of. To them he is a hero. He is a perfect human being who came along at the perfect time in history to build the greatest country on God’s green earth, so they believe! It never enters the mind of these Canadians that Indigenous lands are extremely resource-rich. The raping and pillaging of wealth does not call upon a genius to do. It’s more in line of what a bloodthirsty pirate would be good at. Macdonald is celebrated here in this life but in the Land of Spirits he is NOT regarded as a hero. A man who is responsible for the death of thousands of children does not get away with it. Macdonald had to account for his sins as all of us will do upon entering the place of Creator’s justice.

I am attaching a link to a radio interview I did with CBC Ottawa Morning regarding the renaming of the SJAM parkway: https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-100-ottawa-morning/clip/15848172-ottawa-poet-laureate-behind-petition-rename-sir-john.  I ask that you promote it widely. We need more signatures! Do what is right and sign the petition (https://renametheparkway.ca/). The name of a cruel and mean-spirited man must be removed from the Parkway. Sign the petition!

South Wind

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Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway? Yes / No

The finger of blame, for the Indian Residential Schools, for the starvation tactics used against our First Nations relatives on the prairies, and for the inhumane Indian Act, point directly to one man, John A. Macdonald. Canada’s first prime minister has blood on his hands. The full number of children who died because of John A. Macdonald being born and then coming to our shores as an immigrant will never be truly revealed. We only know that there were many thousands of innocent children who died in the misery created by Macdonald only so the wealth of Indigenous lands could be raped and pillaged by governments and by businesses without them fearing protest from the First Nations People.

He was a hero to the British monarchy and knighted for his extermination policies against the Indigenous Peoples of this land. I can without any doubt declare that Macdonald is NOT celebrated where his soul lives today. He had to account for the deaths of children. No one, absolutely no one, escapes justice, not kings or queens, not presidents nor prime ministers, not priests nor popes. Creator keeps a close record!

I ask you to promote the petition (https://renametheparkway.ca/) to all your networks. We need your signatures!

Also, check out the interview I did (https://www.iheartradio.ca/580-cfra/audio-podcasts/cfra-live-i-don-t-know-how-anybody-can-see-him-as-a-hero-albert-dumont-kick-starts-petition-to-rename-the-sir-john-a-macdonald-parkway-1.15365004?mode=Article) with CFRA on Sunday morning. It really is worth the time to listen.

I am attaching below my poem ‘Sir John A. Macdonald’.

Sir John A. Macdonald
by Albert Dumont ©

We, the Anishinabe, search the lifeless eyes
Of the many portraits proudly painted for Canada
To honour a man Canadians believe
Was an emblem for ‘decency, righteousness and vision’
“A hero” they say, “a Nation Builder”
But the First Peoples look upon the face
Of Sir John A. Macdonald
And see the curse, responsible
For the deaths of thousands of our children

We see in Macdonald, a man, who saw
In the whiteness of his skin, a human being equal to God
Who believed his soul
Would never be in need of cleansing
And that the goodness offered daily on Turtle Island
By the ever-present Good Spirit, who teaches us
That no human being is greater than any other
Were teachings Macdonald accepted as only created for people
Lesser than men such as himself

We look at the evil Macdonald placed into ‘The Indian Act’
And other oppressive actions perpetrated by him, against us
And ask ourselves when in meditation, if the wailing spirits
Of the thousands of Indigenous children
Who died in Macdonald’s Residential Schools
Held sacred council with him in the eternal sky
Where true justice sears the soul of the guilty
After the scalding breath of death stopped forevermore
The beating of Macdonald’s spiritually hollow heart

With ceremonial tobacco by our side, we ask
Did Macdonald’s tears flow like the spring waters of the ‘Ottawa’
When the children who died in his Residential Schools
Recounted to him the last torturous hours of their lives
Away from culture, family and the unconditional love
Of a caring human being who could hold their hand
At the moment their last breath silently took them
Back to the peaceful waters of their ancestral lands

For thousands of years
Since our creation story was first told
We called ourselves ‘The First People’
‘The People’ and ‘The Human Beings’
But to Macdonald’s parliament we were only savages
Not worthy of receiving their respect and honour

Sir John A. Macdonald, a hero to the royals of Britain
Sir John A. Macdonald, who sacrificed his soul
So that the people of Canada
Would see him always as the greatest of all men
Where does he find himself today
What words of contrition does he relay
In that empty place, where for him
The darkness of a stormy night
Will never yield to a calm and re-assuring dawn

Oh but what if it had been you
The peoples of European ancestry
Who were the first human beings of Turtle Island
And here, you lived and thrived for thousands of years
Until one day, bronze-skinned people
Arrived on your welcoming and generous shores

Oh but what if the newcomers brought with them
To your tranquil and sacred lands
Ancient wars from their former homeland
And laid before you, countless pandemics of vile disease
And through the power of generations of your oppression
Could control even your very thoughts making you believe
That the light of God was for them, always present
Even guiding their cruel deeds against you

Imagine now that today, a dark-skinned man
Was being praised for destroying all that Creator gave to you
With bronze-skinned people believing he was a noble leader
Who built a great and fair nation where yours once stood
Would you join in singing an honour song in his memory
Or would you fight with all the strength of the sun
To pull his portraits and statues down

Keep the Circle Strong,

South Wind (Albert Dumont)

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215 Dead Children; Kamloops

I have oftentimes imagined that the Centre Block on Parliament Hill is representative of the heart of the Canadian Nation. Like the human heart, from which comes our ability to be kind, brave, wise, generous, sharing and all of those other honourable traits that define us as human beings, so too, are the workings taking place in the Centre Block also capable of producing those very same things for our country, Canada. What is truly sad is that the human heart can also produce hatred and cruelty even to the point that innocent children will suffer because of it. The human heart and the Centre Block (the heart of the Nation) are really entities onto themselves. We, as human beings, will have to account for the wrongs we are guilty of, those hateful things we did that were against the teachings of the human heart will one day confront each and all of us. The Centre Block, the Nation’s heart, will never experience the spiritual reckoning as the evil among us certainly will. The Nation’s heart will never be truly accountable for the wrongs it has done. Governments will come and go. The heart of the Nation will keep a-pounding regardless of the sins of the past. The Canadian heart (the Centre Block) knows no shame. It feels no guilt. If it did, it would do what is right. Doing what is right, is condemning Canada’s former prime minister for the monster that he was. If Macdonald had a heart, it is difficult to believe that it was a human one.

The dreadful brutality of the Nation’s heart lays yet in the grave alongside the bodies of the 215 children discovered at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Its presence among the decaying bodies of innocent children stains the purity of their short lives. The spirits of the dead children call out to Canadians to finally see what the heart of their Nation is guilty of.

I find myself in wonder about the children in the grave at Kamloops. Without them, what became of the waters of their family lineage? To what degree would the sunrises and sunsets of their days have shaped and molded them? They were born as beautiful and innocent human beings. They died, only because the purity of their hearts conflicted with that of the heart of the Nation.

I wrote the following poem years ago:

Ninidjànis (My Child)
Dedicated to the children who suffered humiliation and death at the Residential Schools
by Albert Dumont ©

Your heritage, oh, noble child
Carried violently into the swirling winds
Of cultural genocide

All your innocence sacrificed
For the ransom of the civilized

Your song denied
Your spirit ravaged
Your mind crucified

Yet the surrogate did not weep
When your heart gave in, to conjured sleep
No tears, for the ward of the “savage” wild
Even though, thousands died

But God blessed you as special ones
In the Spirit Place beyond the sun

Where even the shadows of men who hate
Will never challenge to leave their weight
Where you complete the ancient plan
Of the Sacred treaty, made between God and man

If a mass grave containing 215 children as young as 3 years old was found in the grounds near Auschwitz or somewhere in Rwanda, I know that world leaders would be reacting differently than they are now. It is so because world leaders have never cared to have a relationship of respect and honour with their Indigenous populations. Indigenous children are not worth as much to the world as others are.

May all of our children who died in Canada’s Residential Schools rest in eternal peace and love.

Keep the Circle Strong,

South Wind (Albert Dumont)

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In Gratitude of Congratulatory Comments

Kwey to all of you who took time away from your COVID concerns to write congratulatory notes to me (regarding Poet Laureate) via FB, website and emails.

All your good words were graciously received. May Creator bless all of you for your love of poetry.

If you are interested, check out a new video link produced by Monique Manatch of ICMI regarding my becoming Ottawa’s Poet Laureate: 

Also, today is my 30 year anniversary of the accident which resulted in me living now with chronic pain. What I have to say about it is this: Let us all enjoy life to the fullest. Look to the sacredness we can enjoy together, today and tomorrow. The past is the past! If it has no blessings to offer, then let it decay.

Keep the Circle Strong,

South Wind

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Albert Dumont – Ottawa Poet Laureate (Algonquin Territory)

new Poet Laureate 2021-2023

Big news! I have been selected (by unanimous decision) to be the City of Ottawa’s next Poet Laureate. What a proud moment this is in my life!

The outgoing Poet Laureate (Deanna Young) said in our recent talk, that I will now become the ‘ambassador for poetry’ for the City of Ottawa. I take a quick glance at my life and think, I can do this! Poetry has always been a rich and tremendously healing medicine for me. It is an antidote for a broken heart, often coming in as a healer after heartache has shrunken normally big shoulders to a size where lifting the emotional pain weighing them down no longer seems possible. Poems can do what a doctor often cannot do! Poetry is joy! Poetry is that smile appearing on your face when you realize at the end of a tiring and stressful month that you still have an abundance of energy left in you to celebrate the fact you came out on top. Poetry will make you believe that deep, deep at the bottom of a coal mine, a sunrise awaits, to heal and nourish.

I will promote poetry. I will do it in Ottawa and at Kitigan Zibi (my home community where I was born). I will do all I can to turn young people on to it. I will tell young poets that poetry is fire, it is water, it is the rich earth under our bare feet, it is the playful wind under the shade of weeping willow trees, it is part of the culture of the People of Indigenous bloodline and all others who embrace poetry as one of the main arteries, bringing humanity to all our actions and deeds.

I intend to journal my time as Poet Laureate for Ottawa through the writing of poems. What I produce will be from the lens of a man in the winter of his time. Who I became after my recovery from severe alcohol addiction will be present in my writings. More often than not, the terrible chronic pain I live with too, will insist on having a say in what this Poet Laureate shares in his poems. The activism I’ve done, the racism I’ve been confronted with in my life will roll like a speeding 210 lbs. (my weight) copper-coloured bowling ball towards any ugliness I see in the ‘Town That Fun Forgot’. I have little doubt that no other city in Canada ever had a Poet Laureate quite like me. I survived a 43 ft. fall from a gristmill roof. What other poet can say that! I might become known as the ‘warrior poet’ (some of my poems wear steel-toed moccasins), or the ‘tall poet’ (although I’ve shrunk almost 2” in recent years) or who knows, some folks might call me the ‘crazy poet’. Whatever, I will promote poetry in this city with all the vigour and energy I can muster. If ever there’s a run on pity pots, my advice, stay out of that line-up. Read a poem instead. Life is too short to spend it waiting for someone else to join you in an Ottawa drainage ditch wallowing in self-pity. I’m not the pity pot type and I think my poems prove it.

I want my friends in Quyon, Pontiac County, to know that I have always enjoyed the supportive words you sent my way in recent yers. The oldtimers of the ‘Onion’ (Quyon) I knew back in the day truly inspired my storytelling style and I’m so grateful. I’ll do my best to make you proud.

Keep the Circle Strong,

South Wind

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In Honour of the Duke of Edinburgh

It was at the time of the Flower Moon, the last moon of spring season, as feasted by the Algonquin Anishinabe that the Duke of Edinburgh took his first breath as a human being. Spring, a fitting season for a man to be born who would work, for many years, to preserve the health of lands, such as those found where wildflowers grow.

In the centre of the Fasting Circle a human being grows greater in wisdom after days without sustenance. A spirit comes forward to direct the ceremony’s participant to honour all people of this world who take a bold stand to rid sacred Mother Earth of the pollutants slowly killing our waters along with poisoning the winds we bring into our lungs. The spirits of the hawk and buffalo, the sturgeon and the pine tree also send forth their blessings to the side of any person who, like the Duke of Edinburgh, act in defence of all things the Good Spirit placed before us so we, as human beings could live well.

The wisdom of the mature human heart speaks to the older people each day of the duty they have to their next generations. It instructs them to point the youngsters towards many challenges and opportunities allowing the youth to grow stronger in mind, body and spirit. To be kind and generous, to be courageous and above all else, to be honourable – these are the teachings the Duke of Edinburgh hoped the young people of the Commonwealth would embrace and bring fully into their identities as contributing members of their nation.

The Duke of Edinburgh was to his Queen what an island rich in healing energy is to a weary traveller on the Great River of Life. By her side he was for her that place she could rest and regroup, a place for her to rediscover a lost trust offered only by the rarest of sanctuaries. To the Queen he was as the tall pine tree we see on the horizon who graciously allows the rising moon to rest awhile on its branches.

Now that the Duke has been received into the eternal embrace of his ancestors and after the honour song they sang to welcome him among them has brought immense joy to his spirit, he will step forward to enter into sacred council with them. The Duke of Edinburgh will speak in the circle about his years on the ocean where as a young man he put his life in harm’s way in defence of the honour of his nation. He will tell of his visits to Turtle Island (Canada) and the friendships he made with the First Peoples. The memories the Duke of Edinburgh has of our Chiefs and of our lands will bring greater peace and joy into his eternal home. May Creator bless the Duke of Edinburgh for the good work he did in the name of mankind.

South Wind

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April 9 – 33 Years of Sobriety

Good morning my Daughters and Grandchildren,

Today, April 9, 2021, I celebrate 33 years of sobriety. It seems to me that the many suns, the many moons which have passed since then, have brought forth joyful experiences we would not have had if sobriety was absent from my life. So I wonder on this magnificent spring day what would have become of me if I had not vowed in the spring of 1988 to never allow alcohol to ever pass my lips again. I often think also, especially when I find myself in the centre of the grace, the tranquility and the peacefulness of the forest, what would have become of you too, if I had not put alcohol, the great destroyer, down for good. I tried to the best of my abilities to be a good father but I’m aware that recovery from severe alcohol addiction takes time. Eventually, you understood that my support for you, my precious girls and grandchildren, was unconditional. I guess what I’m saying is that I know you would have still turned out to become the proud Algonquin women you are today, no matter what the past did to you. When I look at you today with such amazement and pride, I can’t help but hope I had a role in helping you map out your life in a good way through my love for you and with any inspiration I sent your way.

With each passing season after my sobriety began I realized evermore how important it is for me to leave something behind for my family to remember me by. An estate, a pride in the Dumont family bloodline and the precious memories of family love and solidarity are things which are of utmost importance for you to have from me to you. I give you these things with a sober and loving heart. How spiritually broken I would be if I failed to do so. When I cross over to the land of our peaceful ancestors, I hope to hear an honour song being sung for me. But here too, after I have gone home, I would be very happy indeed if you, my loved ones, feasted me every now and then. Remember at those times how your dad and grandfather made something of his life after alcohol disappeared from his life.

I confess that I am guilty of bringing a great deal of pain and heartache to loved ones while I lived my life as a no-account drunkard. To all those that I wounded somehow, I ask now for your forgiveness. For all those times that I should have been there for you but was not, I express here and now the great regret I feel today for having failed you. Alcohol was a cancer slowly devouring my spirit. It blinded me and made a big hole in my heart. I believed I didn’t have a fighting chance against it. If not for the spiritual beliefs of our Anishinabe ancestors, I would never have been able to conquer alcohol. With the sword of family love I was able to stab it in the heart and watch it with glee as it convulsed in its final death throes.

If I have, through my life, given you the dearest of memories a child could ever have with their dad and grandfather since my sobriety began, then I am truly at peace on this day marking my 33rd year of sobriety. It seems to me that there isn’t a ‘Father’s Day’ in the past where you haven’t given me a card saying ‘To the Best Dad Ever’ and upon reading it (each and every Father’s Day) my heart always filled with pride. Sobriety made it all possible. My love for you is everlasting. Never doubt it for even a minute.

Never but never lose sight of the fact that love and support is always present in this world and in the next one. All you need to is reach out for it.

Your Dad, your Grandfather
Albert Dumont

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