Nominations were held this week in Sagkeeng Manitoba, for Chief and Council. The positions are held for two years and follow the Indian and Northern Affairs Canada Election codes. In Sagkeeng there are currently six people vying for the Chief position and 36 people seeking the positions of Council member. There are four positions open for Councilor.
The job of the Chief and Council is a tough one. You can measure the amount of responsibility a Chief and the Councilors have as that of a Mayor, or a Minister. However, you can not measure the Role of the C & C based on main stream politics and ideals. The Chief and Council have a (in my opinion) a different if not harder position. You are governing (and many times managing) community dysfunction. It is not unheard of for people going to your home at all hours seeking some type of remedy for their problems. Whether it be gas money to get to an appointment in the city or someone looking to let off some steam about the housing situation.
Jobs in the Reserve are scarce. And everyone is looking at you at how the jobs are given out or won at a competition (if one occurs). Nepotism is a part of the community being and history. It is good and bad. People want to help their relatives, that is only natural. But in a Reserve, the optics are magnified. So everything that happens in the Reserve looks bigger than it normally is. Like positions given or won in main stream politics. Most of the appointed high ranking jobs do go to "friendlies" of the ruling party. That is how it works. It can't be like that in the Reserve because the pool of jobs is smaller and the optics or results are bigger. The biggest thing that the C & C have to deal with is the overwhelming atmosphere of discontent.
I don't believe the C & C have an easy job.
It is quite interesting that people are always, always talking about change. But I don't think people really know what that is. If there is change it has to come from the community. And for that to happen there has to be a real awareness of how they have been affected by history; the colonialism, the paternalistic operation of the government, the effect of cultural loss, language loss, family disconnect due to the policies of government and the religious imprint left on the people.
We are a people with deep internal conflict. We take that conflict and push it forward on ourselves, our brother and sisters, cousins, friends. We use that conflict on our Leaders. We push them until they give in to our demands, our conflict, our dysfunction.
It will take a hard turn to affect change. First thing is to recognize the dependency on the Band office. Everyone and their dog goes to the Chief and Council for remedy. It has to start there. Everyone expects the C & C to fix their problems. INDIVIDUAL issues and problems. Never mind the community. We need to start being a community and not an island of individuals. The common good is what we need to tackle.
It is hard because a lot of the common good may be inconflict with our individual needs.
I do not know if things will change in our lifetime, but it has to start somewhere. The first step is to have a good foundation for the community. I think that foundation is a strong Indian spiritual belief system. Having that in the schools. Having it in our assemblies, and most important in our homes.
I have my name in for the position of Chief. I don't know what the future holds, but I like to say my piece and this is just another way to go about it. In any case I look forward to the end of the month and see how it goes. The current Chief is a strong contender.
So what are my reasons for putting my name in for Chief?