Mtigwaki, Ontario is a fictional First Nations reserve in the comic strip For Better or For Worse. The town, located in Northwestern Ontario, is home for a tribe of the Anishinabek Nation. The name, pronounced [m̩tɪɡwʌkɪ] (or approximately mm-tigwak-ih), means "Land of Trees" in the Ojibwa language.

Elizabeth Patterson, one of the strip's main characters, lived and worked in Mtigwaki for two years while teaching elementary school. For the series of strips in Mtigwaki, strip creator Lynn Johnston received the Debwewin Citation for excellence in Aboriginal issues journalism from the Union of Ontario Indians.[1]

The community was created with Baloney & Bannock comic creator Perry McLeod-Shabogesic, of the N'biising Nation (Anishinabek Crane Clan). McLeod-Shabogesic collaborated with Johnston to create an authentic world for the characters to inhabit. His son, Falcon Skye McLeod-Shabogesic, created the Mtigwaki First Nation's logo, which is partially inspired by a dreamcatcher, and his wife Laurie assisted Johnston with the Ojibwa language and was written directly into the strip as a teaching colleague of Elizabeth's.


The fictional community is currently growing, despite government efforts to move the community. Highways, pipelines, and hydro are all distant from the area.

Mtigwaki is situated on Lake Nipigon in the Thunder Bay District. It is located at the mouth of the Spruce River, approximately 60 kilometres north of Beardmore and 180 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay. The nearest community is the (also fictional) town of Spruce Narrows.

The community has a bay and beaches. There is a dangerous current at the right side of the bay; parents discourage their children from going there. The area's primary industry is logging. Most residents of Mtigwaki work in Spruce Narrows.

The community includes pow-wow grounds. At the mouth of the Spruce River is a marina and general store. The store primarily stocks dried food and fishing equipment. There is both a Catholic and a Protestant cemetery in Mtigwaki. A hidden cemetery exists, for those who followed traditional Anishinabek teachings. Burials at this third spot follow traditional rituals.


  • Elizabeth Patterson, a member of the Patterson family in Lynn Johnston's long-running "For Better or For Worse" comic strip, taught elementary school in Mtigwaki for two years.
  • Laurie McLeod-Shabogesic is based on a real person. She is an Ojibwe language and culture teacher, and worked with Liz.
  • Paul Wright is a half Ojibway, half Caucasian police officer who dated Elizabeth and is currently stationed in Spruce Narrows.
  • Susan Dokis or "Suds", who replaced Elizabeth as teacher in 2006, is now dating Paul.
  • Gary and Vivian Crane run the general store. Gary is also the principal of the Mtigwaki schools, and Vivian manages the nursing station.
  • Jesse Mukwa is a young native boy that lives in Mtigwaki and was a student of Elizabeth's.


  1. Deirdre Tombs, "Cartoonist's ordinary Native people celebrated". Windspeaker, 2005.

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