Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee at the South East Chiefs meeting in Beausoleil First Nation on October 10, 2013    – Photo by Marci Becking

Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee at the South East Chiefs meeting in Beausoleil First Nation on October 10, 2013 – Photo by Marci Becking

Aanii, Boozhoo,

As we welcome a new season and prepare for the winter months, I encourage Anishinabek citizens to get involved with community engagement sessions in customizing our own laws to create a new path forward. Federal and provincial government agendas continue to be problematic because critical First Nation issues are not in the best interest of those governments as they cater to corporate, billion-dollar entities (foreign and domestic) while many of our communities fight for basic services such as safe, clean drinking water, housing and opportunities in education.

At an organizational level we have created mechanisms and templates for your communities to use in creating their own constitutions and laws that will stand up in a court challenge. I congratulate the communities that are being proactive in engaging with community members to customize their laws in citizenship and matrimonial real property (MRP). Governments will continue to pass sweeping legislation for the good of government and their citizens, so we must engage in practices that will lead us to our own long-term sustainability, such as trades training and education.

We fought the Conservative government on the MRP legislation at all levels since it was first introduced five years ago, but with their majority government they rammed it through Parliament and it is now Canadian law. However, because of our inherent rights and proactive approaches in creating our own mechanisms, it does not have to be law for First Nations.

As they gear up the rhetoric on the Education Act, the Anishinabek Nation continues to fight for equity in funding so our communities will have a choice in education and not forced to comply with government policies on education. Our future is in the hands of the bright minds of our young people, but the path to that future is dependent on the actions of our leaders today. It is up to us to give them the tools to maximize their education experience while remaining true to identity with their culture and language firmly intact. Customized First Nation education processes will give our students the tools they need to succeed, but as leaders, as parents and citizens, we must find a way to unify our approach first.

Chi-Miigwetch,

Patrick Wedaseh Madahbee

Grand Council Chief, Anishinabek Nation