by Xavier Kataquapit
Chief Jennifer Constant has been elected as leader of her home community of Mattagami First Nation. Her recent election marks a lifelong career of working in various roles and positions for her community and on regional First Nation issues over the past two decades.
Mattagami FN held their election on September 30. Councillors elected for this upcoming term are Devin Naveau, Cindy McKay, Dereck McKay, Janelle Golinowski, Sue Prince and Kourtney Baulne.
Chief Constant stated that her own personal mandate is ‘to be an active representative on First Nation issues with a focus on promotion, advancement, and advocacy of First Nation objectives and initiatives’.
“I am thankful for the support of the community and I am honoured to be taking on this role. I’m also excited because we have a good group of people on our council who all have their own goals and they are ready to take on those priorities set by the community,” commented Chief Constant.
The other two candidates for Chief were incumbent Chief Chad Boissoneau, who had served the community for multiple terms and Walter Naveau, who is also a past Chief and past Deputy Grand Chief of Nishnawbe-Aski Nation (NAN).
The new Chief and Council are set to be sworn into their new positions on October 18.
This election marks the first time the First Nation will be implementing a new election code developed by the community. The Mattagami FN administration had opted into the First Nations Elections Act (FNEA) which allowed them to develop their own custom election code. This new election code now provides this new Chief and Council with a four year mandate. The previous election code under the Indian Act provided for only two year terms of office.
Chief Constant continues a long tradition of leadership in her family. Her mother is past Chief Joyce Luke and as well her uncle past Chief Gerald Luke. Chief Constant’s grandfather is past Chief Alec Luke and her great-grandfather is Chief Andrew Luke, the first recognized Chief of Mattagami FN, who was also one of the signatories of Treaty Nine for Mattagami FN in 1906.
Mattagami FN is a progressive community that has always had strong representatives. The community has the distinction of having elected the first all woman Chief and Council in 1962 with Chief Helen Naveau and Councillors Elizabeth Naveau and Irene Naveau. Chief Helen Naveau is also recognized as one of the first female Chiefs in Canada during this time.
Chief Constant is a lifelong advocate and representative for her community. She began her political career in 2003 as one of the youngest individuals to be elected to Council in Mattagami FN. She went on to be elected to this position for nine terms while also being involved in a variety of roles and responsibilities for her community and territory in issues regarding traditional lands, resources development, economic development and in advocating for Elders and youth.
Mattagami FN is part of the Wabun Tribal Council along with the First Nations of Beaverhouse, Brunswick House, Chapleau Ojibwe, Flying Post and Matachewan.