Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Aug 28 2015, Page 4

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - August 28, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE A4 A 4 WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, AUGUST 28, 2015 MANITOBA winnipegfreepress. com Monday - Friday 10am- 9pm, Saturday 10pm- 6pm, Sunday 12pm- 5pm LORENZA FASHION Grant Park Shopping Centre Across from the Theatre • 204- 415- 6270 20% OFFJEANS Not Your Daughter’s Jeans Available regular 0- 18 petite 0P- 16P Simon Chang Jeans Available regular 2- 18 petite 2P- 14P French Dressing Jeans Available regular 2- 18 petite 2P- 18P • available in black & blue • straight leg, boot cut & legging • available in black & blue • straight leg & boot cut • available in black & blue • straight leg, boot cut & legging 25% – 50% OFF On Selected Summer Items BLOWOUT! Jag Jeans 50% OFF SELECTED Not Your Daughter’s Jeans 50% OFF Anxiety? Help is just a phone call away. 925- 0600 1( 800) 805- 8885 www. adam. mb. ca If someone you know has Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, we’re here to help. Call 204- 943- 6622 or 1- 800- 378- 6699 or visit us online at alzheimer. mb. ca P OWER broker or decisionmaker? The election next week of a First Nation leader in Manitoba’s resource- rich north isn’t for either one, if only because the role of the grand chief for the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak doesn’t compare easily to a corporate CEO, a lobbyist or an elected political leader. The concept of indigenous leadership really is different. An election Sept. 2 in Nelson House, 45 minutes north of Thompson at the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, will decide who will lead the MKO as a public advocate for, and gatekeeper to, the north. Some 200- plus voters — the chiefs and councils for 30 member communities in MKO — will cast ballots for four candidates. Hotel rooms are reported to be booked solid in Thompson. A comparison for the type of organization might be to a miniature United Nations or British Commonwealth. Like the UN or the Commonwealth, MKO wields no inherent power; it’s the service lobby group for the collective. Its leader is the public advocate, but grand chiefs don’t rule, they take orders; chiefs call them resolutions. As gatekeeper, they’re the first stop for industry and government. Protocol — ceremony— is no empty gesture in the north; it’s the oil that gets things moving. Say a mining corporation approaches MKO for an introduction; as a facilitator, MKO can open doors. The leader shapes who get a warm introduction and who doesn’t. “ Whoever gets elected, it hinges on the individual and what their passions will be to move the First Nations agenda forward,” said Ron Evans, a former Manitoba grand chief and current chief of Norway House First Nation. Evans is known as pro- development. He’s the first to admit forging a united front takes a deft political touch. “ It’s a matter of our governments and mainstream governments coming together,” he said. “ I’ve always pushed to work in co- operation with people as opposed to against people... It’s way better to understand each other and the limits of what one can do.” No matter who gets the job, the heavy lifting will still be with individual First Nations, which explains the almost inevitable round of court injunctions — look at HudBay’s Lalor Lake and Snow Lake operations, or the milder friction with gold exploration in the Red Sucker Lake region. “ That’s always been a problem with governments and corporations. They don’t want to go into a negotiation with individual First Nations,” one northern political insider said. ” It’s been a frustration for years.” But this time, there’s frustration on both sides. This election features four candidates with vastly different backgrounds who are running against a backdrop of MKO as a spent political force. It can’t get key service deals with the province: policing for one, child welfare for another. Mending internal fences will be the first priority, say chiefs, who are using this election to call for détente and unity and rebuild the northern chiefs group. It sees itself as the senior indigenous lobby in the province, even though it represents only half the chiefs, based on age alone. It’s 30 years old, a few years older than the latest incarnation of the provincial Assembly of First Nations and the much younger Southern Chiefs Organization. Political insiders say current Grand Chief David Harper is in trouble — news accounts he bought three guitars with MKO money, paid for car repairs, travel for his girlfriend and plane tickets for gospel singers to perform at a jamboree — angered a lot of chiefs. They don’t care he paid the money back. “ We suspended our association with MKO back in September after the last AGM,” said Manto Sipi Cree Chief Michael Yellowback, from God’s River in northeastern Manitoba. “ Because of the financial irregularities, the lack of transparency. We’re participating in this election; we’re hoping for new leadership.” Supporters defend the incumbent, saying he paid the money back, and he’s the only candidate with significant political experience. Harper’s close alliance with many powerful elders councils in the north lends him considerable clout. That was made clear this week when Harper flew Sarah Harper, his great- great- grandmother, to Winnipeg from Oxford House for a public celebration of her 109th birthday. Media coverage lauded the elder as the oldest aboriginal resident and possibly the oldest Manitoban alive. The not so subtle message? “ Respect your elders.” On the environmental front, however, a $ 300,000- plus agreement with Canada’s main nuclear regulator cost Harper dearly. Chiefs who oppose the deal insist Harper set an ugly precedent by cracking open a back door on nuclear- waste consultations and violating their rights to sovereignty. That’s bad, because bands stuck in poverty could now end up with bad development deals, dissenting chiefs say. All because MKO didn’t take its role seriously as gatekeeper to protect land rights. Take the situation with Mathias Colomb Chief Arlen Dumas from Pukatawagan, a familiar name in court battles over mining. He led a blockade against HudBay Mineral’s Lalor mine near Snow Lake and lost when the company won an injunction against his protest. Dumas said he’s not against mining. But he’s a fierce champion for First Nation sovereignty rights. Furious, Dumas took Pukatawagan out of MKO. After the nuclear- waste deal was made public, other Swamp Cree communities followed Pukatawagan out the door, he said. “ What we need is someone who can broker a path forward for us. That is the role of a grand chief... I want to work with industry but I’m not going to take an agreement that makes my community members sweep floors. That’s not the kind of jobs we want. We want to be heavy equipment operators, have skilled trades. And industry wants that too... We need to find a way to get there,” Dumas said. alexandra. paul@ freepress. mb. ca Grand chief requires a deft touch The candidates . David Harper , from Garden Hill, is seeking a third term. He decided against announcing his candidacy publicly but his name is in the ring. . Sheila North Wilson is a veteran broadcaster from Bunibonibee Cree Nation. She played an instrumental role in the media campaign that cast AMC Grand Chief Derek Nepinak on the political stage during the Idle No More protests. . William Elvis Thomas is a former councillor with Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation in Nelson House. He claims credit as the lead negotiator for the $ 1.8- billion Wuskwatim Hydro deal. He’s run three times for leadership in Nelson House and once before for MKO’s top job. . Tyler Duncan , 19, is a youth leader from Norway House. As a teenager, he’s the one candidate every one will treat with kindness, as future leadership material. Among characteristics needed by those vying to win Sept. 2 election By Alexandra Paul TREVOR HAGAN / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES David Harper is seeking a third term as grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak. SUBMITTED PHOTO Sheila North Wilson is a veteran broadcaster from Bunibonibee Cree Nation. SUBMITTED PHOTO Tyler Duncan is a youth leader from Norway House. William Elvis Thomas A_ 04_ Aug- 28- 15_ FP_ 01. indd A4 8/ 27/ 15 11: 29: 18 PM

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