LONGLAC, ONTARIO: Elections for the Chief and Council of Ginoogaming First Nation were held on Wednesday the 21st day of August 2013. Chief Celia Echum was re-elected for her 4th straight 2-year term by defeating challenger Joanne Towegishig by a landslide vote of 194 to 60. The six Councillors are: Gabriel Echum, Sheri Taylor, Maurice Waboose, David Charles, Kelly Fortier and April Dore. Before becoming Chief, Celia has worked in a variety of disciplines as a certified health representative, band manager, and councillor. She now embraces the role of political leader.
Ginoogaming has several community economic and social development projects on the go. For the next term Chief Echum is looking to plan for the future to address new infrastructure needs and housing to accommodate young families in the community and single parents living in overcrowded conditions.
Ginoogaming has been investing in what Chief Echum calls their most important asset, their people. The community has focused on skills development and training with the opening of a Multi-Purpose Centre with employment programs leading to jobs for several band members. Part of the project sees community members building houses on the reserve which will eventually lead up to other employment opportunities in mining and forestry.
There are currently 56 homes occupied with an additional 12 units under construction. The training and construction of the houses is provided by Errington Lumber of the town of Geraldton. “I am very proud of the capacity that we are building at the community level with trades skills, environmental monitoring, economic development, band management and training delivery. I am thrilled to see our own peoples gaining experience so we don’t have to rely too much on others from outside our community” Chief Echum stated.
The community is also focusing on the construction of a business centre to accommodate entrepreneurs and band members, improving the Anishinabek Police Service office and exploring opportunities in mining with Premier Gold and forestry initiatives including expanding wood harvesting operations and a sawmill partnership.
In October of 2012, Ginoogaming First Nation signed an agreement with AV Birla Terrace Bay to sell pulpwood to their mill from areas that are the band’s traditional territory on the Kenogami Forest. The community has also undertaken a Cultural impact Assessment that helps community members understand the impacts arising from Premier Gold’s Advanced Exploration activities, and to ensure that Ginoogaming First Nation has made an informed decision and was able to weigh all the risks.
Chief Echum is also involved in local and regional negotiations as part of the Matawa Chiefs Council between the Matawa First Nations and the Province of Ontario over the Ring of Fire mining development. She has also initiated talks with the TransCanada Corporation about the East-West Pipeline project.
“Our elders have frequently reminded us that protection of environment is most important when it comes to major resource development projects and that our constitutional Aboriginal and Treaty rights remain guarded,” stated Chief Echum. “Nothing happens on our lands without our free, prior, informed consent and we need to ensure our consultation and accommodation protocols are fully respected by Industry and Government.”
About Ginoogaming First Nation:
Ginoogaming First Nation (formerly the Long Lake 77 First Nation) is a small Anishnawbem (Ojibway) First Nation located on the northern shore of Long Lake, and 1 km from the community of Longlac, Ontario, Canada. Ginoogaming has a total registered population of 773 people, of which 168 are residing on the First Nation reserve territory.