Tuesday, October 23, 2012

If you were Chief...

If you were Chief what would you do? Differently?

by Steve Julian on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 1:46pm ·

There is a lot of debate over on the Sagkeeng Fort Alexander facebook page on the goings on of the community. I see some people campaigning and some openly calling for a new Chief and Council. I wonder if you did have the helm what would you try and do to change things. Or do things need to be changed?

I did run for public office a couple of times without success. The message for me is loud and clear, so I do acquiesce to the wishes of the community. Still I wouldn't mind to hear from other people as to what ideas they do hold. I also still want to share my ideas and thoughts about our community.

Last election there was one candidate talking about the rule of "big families". I felt that this was a wrong approach. A divisive attack from a person that is suppose to lead the community. My thinking is that the elected leader must unite the community not divide it.

Another person felt the need to attack the other opponents rather than talk about what their focus was for the community. I think with that type of thinking it just adds to the discontent that plagues our community.

I maintain that our communities ills do not fall on any one Council, but it is a accumulative effect of years of colonial oppression. We are just immersed in that decay that we don't know anything else. But there is hope for sure.

I think the role of the Chief and Council must be seen as our rule. Chief and Council must be thought of as the Voice of our community. As it is, people do not live like that. For example if the Chief and Council decided that for the good of the community that we needed to suspend the hunt for moose, would people listen? Of course not. People would say it is my Treaty Right and I am going to exercise that Right. Isn't that right? Right now the community uses the Chief and Council as a management team, not a Leader and voice for the community. The role of the Chief and Council must be seen as our government, but clearly it is not. People will go to our Council for the most mundane of things. "I lost my Welfare cheque or someone stole it and I need to get some pampers for my kids". "I need gas money to get to the city". If the Council doesn't give out money then people get  downright angry and hostile, swearing at the secretaries at the Band office. Is that anyway to treat the Leader of your community? It is about respecting the role. Remember the role that C & C have. I may disagree with the politics, the management and the conduct of C & C but I still remember what they represent. That is one thing the C & C must also remember, it is their role to listen to the people and speak for the people. Remember you can't give every single person a Yes.

That is what people don't want is to hear No. But it is the reality of the situation. The Band is limited in what it can do. So the C & C have to be stingy with the resources and not just use them to gain favour with certain segment of the population. But it happens. That has been the situation for a long time. How do we change that situation?

I think telling is the way. Tell everyone what is going on at the Band office. If someone is coming for money, let the people know. If you have to give money let the people know. That money is on behalf of all the community. Not for certain segments.

I know people are people and you are going to like and not like certain people. So your decisions are going to reflect that. I know my brother is not liked by the Band and so he is treated in that manner. It is not policy it is personal. That is not the way to govern.  But that is the nature of people. So trying to over come that is a look in the mirror approach.

The community should start to think about the community as a whole. Right now that is not the case. We are so divided in all aspects: family lines, religious lines, geography lines (north south shore, on reserve off reserve), ideological lines, and historical views. Some people have a skewed version of history and want two separate reserves. That is a shame, they don't know their own history and want to become big fish in a little pond. Have we not learned anything? No we have not, we are more divided than ever. So how can one C & C change this? It is a community think. Our community is filled with a bunch of individuals that only want what is best (or perceived best) for themselves. The main complaint of C & C is not about community but what I didn't get from C & C.  And that is not hyperbole but fact.  For some individuals Sagkeeng ends at the train track in town and at Cat Fish Creek. People that have to move to Winnipeg are not members of Sagkeeng. Again, division. Where are these people going to live? What jobs? They are forced to move. But hey if you want to throw away your community members, well that says something, doesn't it.

That is what it comes down to: community needs to start thinking about the whole community. The C & C must also think about the whole community. Make decisions based on that ideal.

When I see your x on the ballot box I would like to see, what you are thinking about the community. Not just empty rhetoric; "Oh I can work with anyone". Please that old line has been used forever. And people saying "oh you would make such a great leader". Why, because they can jump up and down? Nope, leadership will need to challenge the status quo. No more empty speaking. Get the community to understand that it is in crisis and the only way to get out of the crisis is people start to end the division.

The community is moving and not for the better, we need people who are going to steer for the whole community. The leader must come in with a strong set of ideals for the whole community.


Let us see an open financial disclosure. Open housing choices. Open lines of contact. Not just information to those that are in the "immediate circle".

1 comment:

  1. Someone once said, "Ideologies separate us. Dreams and anguish bring us together." It is unfortunate that many if not most all our Native Communities are at the ideology stage...we need dreams and unfortunately anguish to bring our people together for one purpose. I enjoyed your blog. You have a good insight. I know what you are saying and if only we lived in a perfect world.
    Blessings,

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