THUNDER BAY – In a custom election held on January 21st, 2017, the membership of Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek elected Joe Ladouceur as the new Chief of the community. Ladouceur, who previously sat on Council for BNA, received significant support from members over this past weekend’s vote. The membership also elected its new Council on Saturday, with Councillor Katie Borysewicz being elected for her first term to Council, and Councillor Lillian Calder re-elected for the four-year term.
“I am both excited and humbled from the vote of confidence placed in me and our new Council by the members of Bingwi Neyaashi over this past weekend”, said Chief Ladouceur. “I have heard the concerns and aspirations of our members loud and clear, and on behalf of our new leadership, I want our membership to know that I am here to deliver on the promises I have made throughout the campaign”. The BNA reserve lands, located on the southeastern shores of Lake Nipigon, were finally returned to the First Nation in 2010 after decades of displacement at the hands of the federal and provincial governments. This has meant that successive Councils have had to work on developing the new community’s infrastructure from scratch. “I want to acknowledge the past work that has been done by our leaders and staff to develop the BNA reserve lands”, Ladouceur said. “However, we have so much still to do. And we are prepared – as a team – to do it”.
Bingwi Neyaashi is a progressive community which works with its First Nation, industry and government partners in the areas of economic and resource development. The BNA membership also ratified the community’s ‘Land Code’ back in March of 2014, giving the First Nation complete control its own reserve lands, and no longer subject to dictates and demands of the federal government with respect to its developments. “With the BNA Land Code firmly in place, we will be able to develop our First Nation based on the wishes of our membership, and ensure that we can build an economic base with industry at the speed demanded by our members, and not by the government”, Ladouceur said.
Chief Ladouceur believes that the only way to move forward in all areas as a First Nation is to ensure that the people remain united – both within the community’s membership, and amongst First Nation partners and neighbours. “Too often, political issues seem to derail the significant process that we make both as a community and as First Nations’ people as a whole. I firmly believe that the only way to progress is to do so in a way that brings all of the people together, united in pursuit of a common goal. If our people can remain united, and not allow negative forces to bring us down, anything is possible. The sky is the limit”.