First of all, it continues to be a great honour and privilege to serve as your Omushkegowuk Okimakan (Grand Chief). Since I was elected by the Omushkegowuk in March, I continue to work closely with the Council of Chiefs and our management team on many files that are very important to our citizens. The 36th Annual Mamowihitowin of the Mushkegowuk held in September 2022 allowed us to gather in unity and to collectively provide direction and mandates for many important areas that include health, governance, children/youth. Upon invitation, I have attended several community events. It is my hope that the invites will continue as these events give me an opportunity to touch base and stay connected with the grassroots people.
The provision of the best possible Health Care service for our citizens will always be at the centre of my heart and a priority. All our communities have serious concerns with our current health care system. For many decades we have suffered inadequate and third-rate health care services, as compared to non-Indigenous individuals and communities in Ontario and Canada.
Our health care system reached a point where in August 2022, the Council of Chiefs had to declare a State of Emergency in Healthcare. Following the declaration, we had several meetings with the federal and provincial governments, including WAHA to address several calls to action that were included with the declaration. As a result of our collective actions, we will be establishing a trilateral table between the First Nations, and the Federal and Provincial Governments. This will allow us to negotiate renewed regional health care and strengthen community health systems.
As well and very important, we were able to hold a Health Summit on November 29, 30 and December 1, 2022, where the Mushkegowuk First Nations provided their input on addressing the issues and needs of their health care system. We are looking forward to the Summit Report and implementing the people’s recommendations.
We have held several important meetings between Mushkegowuk and Matawa leadership to build common understanding and approaches to protecting our lands and guide developments such as the Ring of Fire. These meetings are leading to the development of a Relationship Agreement to maintain our shared vision.
The Mushkegowuk Council of Chiefs requested an Organizational Review of Mushkegowuk Council. This process is underway and we are taking this as an opportunity to really examine the way the organization provides support to the Mushkegowuk First Nations. My goal is to help make Mushkegowuk Council more community led and driven as well as responsive to community needs.
There are many other important files and initiatives that we are moving forward on behalf of the Mushkegowuk First Nations. Within this newsletter you will find updates on the files/work that our First Nations directed us to do through our assembly (Mamowihitowin) resolutions.
As we take time with family, friends and community during this Christmas season, I would like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and blessed New Year. May we continue to strengthen each other and grow stronger together in the coming year.
Strategic Advisor Resource Protection
Deputy Grand Chief