Chief Darren Whitford is currently serving his 7th consecutive term.  He has been Chief since December 2002 and it is now 2017.

 

I am Darren Whitford, currently Chief of O’Chiese First Nation. I have previous experience with being a leader as I sat on as Council before. My previous work history included Fire Chief in the early 90s and as an entrepreneur in the logging industry. I attended high school at Will Sinclair, Rocky Mountain House, and Post Secondary at Yellowhead Tribal College. Today, not only do I hold office, but I also developed a gravel truck company which employs at least one or two members of our community. My hobbies are golf, baseball, and to continue learning.

 

I am willing to try anything and I am inspired by the past leadership, Council and Chiefs of the past. I am inspired by how they led the people, and especially to how my parents led our people. The history of those past Chiefs such as Sitting Bull, Big Bear, and Crazy Horse taught me about their focus and their difficulties. Their leadership focused on the people, just as it is for me. The well being of my people who are friends, relatives, siblings, grandparents and parents are real, their issues are real, and the impacts of government policies and legislations impact us to a degree that I must continually seek ways to ward off those impacts or provide information so my community can adapt. Those Leaders also contended with the similar issues that we struggle with today. The history today continues, as the Federal, now the Provincial governments are changing legislation that will impact us, and our community, it is imperative that we have a voice at these meetings.

 

The past Leaderships dealt with the fundamentals of their people, their land base, their human rights, their governance, their beliefs and cultural systems. These issues were a constant battle to protect, preserve, and practice. Today, not much has changed even though we have Treaties here in Canada. Our people had to endure much hardship, incarceration, and wars to provide for yesterday’s and today’s generation. It is about the people, the land, the water, the food sources, and the ceremonies. As a Leader, I am responsible for protecting those fundamental rights for our people not only within Canada but also the outside countries that also have an economic stake in our Country. As First Nation Peoples, we must begin an era of self sufficiency within the preservation of the Treaty that our forefathers have fought hard to gain. Sometimes, this responsibility of leading can be daunting and a huge responsibility that our community is just beginning to understand. We want to keep and maintain our cultural way of life, yet, become competitive within the confines of the Indian Act. As a Leader, I am proud to be of O’Chiese First Nation ancestry, proud that my forefathers thought well of my future to negotiate a treaty and provide a road map to assist in governing. Our community has a language that has a history, our forefathers are buried throughout this province, and Canada and we as O’Chiese First Nation have a large land base that is ours despite what the current governing nation says and writes.

 

My short term goal for O’Chiese First Nation is to have stability in business, governance, finance, management, and staffing. I believe it is the key for O’Chiese First Nation to have employment and economic stability as well.

 

My long term goals for O’Chiese First Nation are communication, accountability, credibility, and stability. More importantly, we need to formulate short and long term plans include areas of water, sewer, housing, land claims, education, curriculum, culture, training, employment, and a new school. These plans will provide O’Chiese with sustainability, stability and success.

 

I believe O’Chiese First Nation successes are ourselves; our membership, our unity, our language, and our culture. We also have qualified, educated staff. All of these together will enable us to achieve our short and long term goals.

 

My service to the community is to be able to provide good leadership, hope, opportunity, and fairness. What is important to me is practicing and promoting culture and language. These beliefs and values will continuously bring stability, unity and prosperity.

 

 

My wish for O’Chiese First Nation is to retain and promote language and ceremonies; our cultural way of life. My hope for the elders and the youth are to have an open mind, integrate and teach culture and traditional values along with good health, education and employment. We need to go back to the beginning to who we are as a people, our way of life, and our ceremonies as these help us today.

 

 

My overall message to the community is “thank you, as it is the ‘we’ and not the ‘I’ concept that we will continue to succeed and prosper!” As always, I thank the community, elders, and employees for their continued support, encouragement and prayers. Thank you to my biggest support: my wife and family.

 

Respectfully, Darren Whitford, Chief, O’Chiese First Nation