Ah neen!  After the Election, I took some time off to recuperate and to deal with last minute medical tests.  I also met with my managers for updates and asked them to restructure some programs and businesses so the programs and businesses were running properly. I also attended Chiefs meetings more for information and updates.  It has been a while since I have been at work and been at Chief’s meetings so I have had time to reflect on current activities, past activities and future endeavors.  I have asked myself what is working and what is not.  As I listened to the members this past Election, I learned that accountability is still the top priority, attendance at work and programs that answer to the needs of the community members.  Other priorities include concentration on youth activities, cultural activities and ensuring that our members are employed.  The Election, visiting and reflecting has been good for me and hopefully will be for our community. 


I know that change is not always easy, especially when staffing are involved or removal of staffing, sometimes those changes can be good for the person or persons.  Staffing issues are always difficult; however, I have to think about the impacts to the members, the service and the funding.  Downsizing, restructuring or reprogramming are not always easy tasks especially for the Managers who have to implement the instruction that is directed at them. Not only is our Nation doing changes in the way we do business but more importantly so is the Federal Government.  As some of you members may know, the reason for Idle No More protests were happening is the Prime Minister is expecting to off load to the Province most of our Treaty Rights which include: Health, Education and implementing a redundant bill of accountability and transparency. The redundant bill of accountability and transparency is fine but the off-loading will have a major impact for the Treaty which is supposed to be protected under the constitution.  Decisions made without consultation, without a meeting with Treaty Leaders results in non-compliance, legal interventions and protests.  As Leaders for our Nation, we have been able to build an economy that requires proper accounting and requires proper handling of investments and profits.  These areas were difficult at the beginning but as we built our capacity, education and what we wanted, we were able to articulate that to our Lawyers who assisted in building the by-law, policy and documents.  So change whether we desire it or if the change comes from the Federal or Provincial Governments, it is still difficult to implement and become compliant to the will of that which we did not assist in developing.  


Even though, I have been Chief for 6 Terms, 3 of those Terms were with the same Council, it is still difficult to accept the growth, the small successes and the way to do business.  We also met with Sunchild Chief and Council to talk about issues that may impact us. Collaborating on certain opportunities that may require us to partner or create a working agreement.  The last time we met as two nations was about 9 years ago and that was to do with a joint fire hall.  We eventually went ahead and built our own fire hall.  As Leaders, we were appreciative of Sunchild Chief and Council requesting a meeting with us.


As I have just attended and created a few meetings at a time, I believe, I will have the energy to complete those areas in which the families of our Nation has requested.  It has already begun.  I was told to include more cultural ceremonies to teach our young, to keep our administration healthy and to encourage our employees more. 


In addition, I am pleased that the Truck stop has finally opened its doors, this project has been the longest development that we have undertaken.  The Truck stop has come with so many issues, so many delays and so many construction constraints that we were about to give up on it.  I would like to thank the tenacity of the Managers, the Capital Officer and Restaurant Contractor to continue to comply with the regulations, the policies, the health person and so on.  I understand that we have a date in mind to have a Grand Opening in May 2013.  Congratulations to the Truck stop Manager and employees in opening the Truck stop!


This is another good year for our Nation, Congratulations to Firman, who assisted in the Chief and Council in closing the deal of O’Chiese Eagle Well Servicing with our Partners: IROC Eagle Well Services.  O’Chiese First Nation has another opportunity for their Nation members to be employed for a long time. 


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


Darren Whitford, Chief, O’Chiese First Nation