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Isadore Day
NEWS RELEASE · 27th March 2012
SooToday.com Staff
Serpent River First Nation (SRFN) chief and council met formally for the first time since the election of January 20, 2012. The agenda was robust, as SRFN has been without a chief and council since November 12 due to delays in their election process

The meeting got underway at the scheduled time of 6 p.m. As suggested by Elder Councilman Bill McLeod, the council all agreed that the meetings should not convene for more than four hours at a time

The first agenda being as full as it was, still allowed for good solid dialogue and gave an opportunity for all members of council to have a say in the decisions and direction that will be taken in upcoming weeks. All of council spoke about important matters in the initial round-table

“It’s good to finally get back to the table to follow-up on a list of issues and priorities left suspended from last term,” says Chief Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini [shown]. “The long wait produced a backlog of issues but we have a great group of employees that have held steady and maintained day to day operations without too much interruption.”

Both the chief and the director of operations, Tony Moor, delivered to council a list of the most pressing agenda items. The issues were split into immediate needs and items that required long-term planning and consideration

“It was a good opportunity to reinforce the 25-year community comprehensive planning process that we began last term,” says Day. “We can now get some momentum behind the process and start to engage our citizens over the next year.”

Some of the highlights from last night’s meeting include some of the following direction and decisions approved by the newly elected and re-elected SRFN officials:

SRFN council laid out an aggressive timetable to deal with Crown land issues in the band's traditional territory, such as the communications towers associated to the Elliot Lake cottage lot project. They will also advance their internal discussions regarding environmental standards and requirements for project approvals on their newly designated lands. These issues are expected to be the first two major files to be addressed in a long list of land development related matters. “We need to have information in front of us so that we can make good decisions on these important land matters,” suggested head councillor Carol Shawana

Council also agreed to an orientation timeline suggested by the chief that will address short- and medium-term tasks. “We have a lot of expertise at the table that will give a lot of solid input as to how we respond to new emerging pressures. I am confident that we will meet funding cuts and a downturn in the economy with a stiff upper lip. We will keep people working and we will focus on increasing the wealth that stays in the community. We will do this by setting out a firm policy direction over the next two years to focus on the retention band jobs. Long gone are the days when we can’t hire from within due to lack of capacity.We have that expertise and we will move on First Nation hiring policy as envisioned by Our People,” vows the chief

The chief also gave an update on the bands bold efforts to use technology to link the off-reserve members into community meetings as well as developing a secure interface that will allow these members and those in their homes to view council meetings in their homes. “We have an opportunity to allow those that live away from the community, like university students, the ability to participate in our decision-making process here at home,” suggests Day

Council also indicated an eagerness to commence and assessment of community housing needs as seen by its citizens. “We need to have a look at our housing needs by asking the community what they see as our current and future needs,” said Day

The new council also approved a $300 grant for all Serpent River First Nation children that are playing in the upcoming Little NHL hockey tournament. The mover and seconder of the motion, Charles Southwind and Allan Meawasige Sr., were quick to agree that the cost of living for families warranted the identified ceiling amount

Newly elected youth, Quinn Meawasige, also made his voice be known speaking on issues related to the food bank in the community and how it must be more accessible for those unique circumstances where families are trying to makes ends meet

Well over 40 key issues and processes were discussed in depth over the four-hour period

This week the chief and management have a great number of files to follow-up on and a plan that will need to be presented back to the First Nation Council for approval on a three-day orientation session and a critical issues list

"The 2012-2014 term in office for Serpent River First Nation chief and council is underway and the issues are many. It will take a coordinated discussion and a strategy that includes the best options for moving forward. Mainly, our role of governance and strategic planning is our main focus under the 'Indian Act' model and regime, but we well know that nation building and self-government have always been the target that must be achieved in order to effectively bring Our People out from the conditions and effects created by the 'Indian Act.' We can no longer settle for administering poverty; we must implement our Aboriginal and treaty rights,” says Day in his opening report. This has clearly set a tone for the platform on which this term was chosen: Securing a Future for the Next Generation

Day expects that the council will be fully engaged and effective by the middle of March and will be positioned with a number of stern assertions for both government and developers that wish to access the territory for land use or economic development

This week Chief Day will be convening a meeting as the Lake Huron Regional Grand Chief to talk jurisdictional issues with the chiefs on matters such as land use matters on Crown lands and elevating the discussion of resource revenue sharing in the province of Ontario. He will also be attending a meeting to discuss the band's water treatment plant file with the minister of Aboriginal Affairs in Ottawa

The community of Serpent River will also hold a key planning session on its 25-year strategic plan. Council is expected to harness this process swiftly as an important venue for community input for its mandate: “Securing a Future for the Next Generation”

“We have a strong community. We have many experts, many leaders, and people who care about this community – we have a strong council with a very balanced set of values and strengths – I am proud to sit here with such a group of leaders; I know we are going to achieve many things because this council carries a strong desire that is community-based,” concludes the chief.

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Wow, what a great council...
Comment by Cynthia on 28th March 2012
The only thing that is missing is what direction they get from their true hereditary chiefs. All community orientated, free speech, everyone is included in their decisions.