Ah neen!  After the holidays, I have returned to work full time, with meetings, catching up on what our Nation has been doing, on top of all of that, elections are the top of the agenda until election day. I would like to take this time to thank the Councilors that have been part of our growth, planning and success and I wish them success as they campaign for another year.  I thank our community members for believing and supporting all of us as we continue to work toward financial longevity and prosperity.  In fact, we just had a JV3 signing ceremony which is exciting as there will be more possibilities and opportunities. Finally, I want to say thank you to the managers and employees who work to the best of their ability to produce the vision for the betterment of the future.  Election for us comes every 2 years, a time of new beginnings, new hope and hopefully successful and prosperous years ahead.  For me, I would like to see stability, orderly and long term planning in our future.  I believe that our future looks successful and prosperous for today and tomorrow. 

 

Since I have returned physically back to work, I have reviewed each of our program areas, our business plans and our community plans.  I see that in some areas, we lack vision, mandate and funding.  As a community we have grown so quickly, that as I see projects that we had planned some years ago are just finished or finishing, as current Leader, I need to assist our Council and our Managers in developing a plan that we can bring to our members to assist in filling in the blanks so that we can all work together in bringing our community and members to a state that we can be proud of, that we built together and that we prosper and succeed together.  I believe that we will need each other to build our community that maintains our culture, the idea of economy and increases our ability to set standards of service that can be respectful and cultural at the same time. 

 

I know that our community is in election mode, which makes it difficult to continue to plan, with so many needs, so many ideas and so many rumors to take into account.  I recognize that it is difficult to work in these conditions for our managers, employees and contractors since some of our managers are band members and our employees are band members and contractors simply just need to recognize this.  The structural set up of the Indian Act regarding elections does not produce stability, order or fill the long term needs of community; it impacts our community, individual selves, children, families, employees and most of all our relationships of each other.  In addition, the electoral system within the Indian Act disengages the relationships built on contracts, our joint ventures and businesses.  Yes, the election process impacts our community in various ways.

 

Although our election has impacted us in more ways than one, I can see the positive impacts it has also made.  The commitments made to build an economy, to take back that which belongs to us; minerals and land, and integrate our language and culture in all that we do.  I understand that our Council and I could not do this alone, we needed you and managers who saw our vision and through planning and teamwork began to implement that which we hoped would envision our values and commitment.  I understand that we have social, educational and health issues that we need to continue to work and lobby for especially when it is part of our entrenched treaties which all Canadians are a part of.   

 

Another election that has recently occurred on January 31, 2013 in Calgary, that also impacts our Nation is the position for Regional Chiefs. O’Chiese First Nation would like to congratulate the newly elected Regional Chief Cameron Alexis from Alexis First Nation

 

As some of you know, our old year brought into the New Year; elements of the “Idle No More” protests and the hunger strike by the Chief Theresa Spence.  The protest has been fairly peaceful and impactful.  The Federal Government forgets that they must according to their own Court system consult with First Nations before implementing new bills that would negatively impact ‘Indians.’ It seems this government thinks it can make its own rules apart from their institutions.  This has been an interesting time for First Nations and all Canadians alike.  This is one area that as a Chief, I can see and feel its impact and more so in the coming months. 

 

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

 

 

Darren Whitford, Chief, O’Chiese First Nation