AFN elections are looming – Chief Georjann Morriseau

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Fort William First Nation is located just south of Thunder Bay Ontario. From the Pow Wow Grounds there is an amazing view out over Lake Superior
Fort William First Nation is located just south of Thunder Bay Ontario. From the Pow Wow Grounds there is an amazing view out over Lake Superior
Fort William First Nation Chief Georjann Morriseau
Fort William First Nation Chief Georjann Morriseau

FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION – AFN elections are looming and some are hot on the campaign trail. In reflection over the past year or so there have been many discussions regarding the “restruc

AFN elections are looming and some are hot on the campaign trail. In reflection over the past year or so there have been many discussions regarding the “restructuring” and “reform” of what we know to be Assembly of First Nations.

With the education bill fiasco a few things became apparent 1. That communication was in fact lacking both internally and amongst our nations. 2. Chiefs were not engaged enough within the mandated processes 3. Everyday citizens were not privy to the “going ons” of their regions and no means to voice this 4. Transparency and accountability was being perceived as compromised. 5. Mandates not being streamlined from communities upwards 6. Regionals claiming they weren’t informed

Throughout all this I have only heard about the need to restructure at every meeting on every microphone. My question is, what does this mean exactly? What does restructuring look like? Proposed framework? Who will decide this? What about you and what about me?

We can all point out the gaps and challenges but what exactly are we going to do about it? We can’t keep going to meeting after meeting while they’re monopolized by a small few and expect to come up with a representative solution. There are over 600 First Nations in Canada of which each are equally important and equally needed to achieve the harmony that has been broken. Where are all the voices?

AFN is irrelevant because our approach is equally as irrelevant and we must all collaborate on how we plan to put our words into actions, roll up our sleeves and commit to the proactive reform we all speak about.

There is so much overlapping that prohibits the streamlining of mandates from the community level upwards. If we expect AFN to play a representative role in some way, then that body must conform to our mandates and processes and not us to theirs. To some degree I feel the disconnect is a result of high level executive discussions and not enough frontline discussions. The everyday community person does not have access unless you know someone who knows someone including some of us Chiefs who come in with open minds, knowledge, education, world view and a desire to see prosperity and hope for our nations be ignored or undermined through status quo approaches.

It’s easy to point out the problems…I am looking for a leader who is going to walk the line and bring forward REAL solutions and utilize the magnificent human resources that exist within our nations such as Youth, Women, Elders, Chiefs, Councillors, technical people etc. Change is not limited to that of political leadership. If it involves all of us then we should all take part in it. Whether it’s spreading a message, writing papers, attending meetings, educating etc. We all have a role.

The framework for reform will depend highly on what our nations expect from AFN. So let’s ask ourselves “what is it that we expect the AFN to do for us and how we expect that to be done?” And begin the discussions there as a collective.

I may be out in left field but quite honestly I truly believe that we as nations can transform AFN or that “body” into something that is representative of us and our mandates. As Chiefs we can’t skirt our roles in this either, we have a responsibility to direct accordingly, be informed, participate and report to our respective communities and treat each other with respect. We also cannot exclude or support disunity the only way we will succeed is together and to acknowledge diversity across all our nations.

Having said all this, I do look forward to seeing what the future holds. Unity. Proactive Reform. Ceremony. Change.

Just my random thoughts….

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