Well another election in our community of Sagkeeng has come and gone. It was real exciting race. Our presiding Chief (Donavan Fontaine) got a challenge from a new comer to politics. Bernie Robinson was challenging for Chief. There were 8 contenders for Chief in all. Wayne Mann Sr., great grandson of Kakekabenais (our first Treaty Chief, signatory to Treaty One, 1871); Jeff Courchene who is quite versed in politics and in Treaty issues; Rich Bruyere a long time volunteer for youth in the community; Cooper a young man with much promise and ideals; and not sure who else. There were also about thirty or more people vying for the 4 available positions of Councilor.
The results are in. Donavan retained his seat, but had a real challenge from Bernie. Bernie was the biggest challenge for Donavan in some time. Three of the four sitting Councilor members retained their seats (Kirby Swampy, Derrick Henderson, Lyle Morrisseau), with a previous Councilor (Joe Daniels) being elected. It was quite a race. The race was interesting because of the way in that things developed. An out pouring of anger surfaced by many of the candidates. On a local Facebook page, the rhetoric was dialed up really quickly. Allegations of secrecy, corruption and of course the "family" issue came up in the election. Some of the candidates and supporters complained about families voting for family members. Many people complained about the votes off-reserve. Lot of anger and a lot of sour, critical and mean comments were tossed around. Not all of the criticisms came from an anger place, but rather out of frustration in their view of how the community is governed. In the end and the tally of the votes, the people have spoken.
Interestingly that is not the end of things. Some are moving to challenge the election for a number of reasons: The polling station situated in the City of Winnipeg, some candidates place of residence, the mailing out of ballots. I am not sure of where things will go but it seems that some members of the community are not happy with the results. In any case some believe the process was unfair or in the least flawed.
This is what I think:
Our election has been accomplished. Regardless if your candidate was selected or not, it is now the time to set the tone for the following years. I say we have a Ceremony to Honour our elected officials. We should have a hand shake circle at that Ceremony to show how we are going to make our Leaders stronger. Tell them how we are going to work for and with them to make our community better. Not to continue to attack. I do agree we need to continue to take our Leaders to task, BUT in the best interest of the WHOLE community. Not for me individually. In turn the Leadership should pledge how they are going to work for the People.
This Old Man, an Elder once said (about Prime Minister Trudeau) "I wonder why that man doesn't drop dead? The amount of bad things people say about him all the time." You see his point was this: your mouth and your thoughts are the biggest forms of "bad medicine". It was a wonder he didn't succumb to all that bad energy he must have been absorbing. In our case we want what is good for our community but yet we are filling it with all sorts of negativity. That energy must go somewhere? Right? I mean all the anger, hurt, frustration and venom has to do something?
I would hope that calmness claims the day. Work out that aggression in a way that is not hurtful or out of spite. Emotions are hard to contain. Not saying to bottle up your feelings, but just exercise some compassion. Think of how we can make the Leadership work. Go up to the Council and say "I am committed to our community and I support our community".
Our community is filled with many Spiritual people, both Christian and Traditional. In both groups there are Teachings. Let's embrace those Teachings.
“Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” 1 Peter 2:17
" Minaadendamowin—Respect: To honor all
creation is to have Respect. All of creation should be treated with
respect. You must give respect if you wish to be respected."