Ah neen!  Congratulations to all who campaigned and congratulations to the Council who came back for another term.  This Election we found that we need to do more work in transparency and communication.  From our community we need you to participate in community meetings, one on one discussion and communicate more with your supervisors.  Communication and transparency is a two way interaction which results in knowledge.   So once again, congratulations to Barry, Cleon, Robert, Cedric, Douglas and Martin!  We need to come together and regroup, review and restructure to ensure that we are doing the best for our membership and that we provide quality workmanship and services. 


The month of March I will be taking some time off as well as some of the Council; we have been very busy for the past 3 terms and we need to regroup and rest.  We are confident in our Managers that they will continue to provide services and of course communicate with ourselves.  Based on some of the comments from you as members, I have given instructions to do some changing in our services in order that we are all better productive members for our businesses, services and community.  The decisions we make are difficult and we hope that the change is for the better. 


As you know we now have businesses that employ almost 200 or more, mostly from our community.  Some of those businesses are running to the best of its capacity. The Band Office employs about 70 and we still have a great deal in training.  We still need to continue with the training and those of you who are in Post-Secondary need to continue and graduate.  One of the issues on the campaign trail was employing and training more members in those positions that require skills.  The businesses we have require skilled labour such as Safety Services require EMR’s (Emergency Medical Responder), that takes time and education and I hope that those who are interested in these skilled laboured positions put their heart into finishing their courses.  As we have just purchased a Service Rig, we need skilled labour again.  The biggest issue that we heard was individuals not having a driver’s license due to fines or impaired driving and then not being able to go to work.  That is not the fault of the Leadership, the driver’s license is an individual effort and in the employment we create, we expect that our membership is fully ready and willing to work which includes a driver’s license.  Responsibility is taking care of that which will assist in providing for you and your family, the driver’s license is very important to that responsibility.  I know that members miss opportunities due to this factor which is completely preventable by driving with care.  Our Manager’s negotiate to provide for transportation to get to and from work but in the end it is your responsibility. 


In addition, we have training programs that are underway from personal development, to safety tickets, to cashiers, to short order cooks and waiter’s/waitresses; and unfortunately, we still have a difficult time keeping trainees in these courses.  I often wonder why and I question, whether we are doing enough to build our capacity in order that we are in charge of our destiny, our future. I know that our Managers and staff also wonder the same thing.


As Leaders, the members have once again put their faith and trust in us to ensure that we are building for our future and building our Nation in all areas of development and services.  We hope that as Leaders once again that we can achieve that which you expect from us and that you will help by attending that which we send you, participate in that which we pay for and graduate with hope and success in the endeavors that we have planned for you.


Thank you to my wife and family, Advisors, Elders, Council and members for your continued support. 


Darren Whitford, Chief, O’Chiese First Nation