Pic River First Nation constitution committee: Cindy Fisher, Art Fisher, JoAnne Michano, Arnold Michano, Chief Duncan Michano and UOI legal counsel, Fred Bellefeuille.

Pic River First Nation constitution committee: Cindy Fisher, Art Fisher, JoAnne Michano, Arnold Michano, Chief Duncan Michano and UOI legal counsel, Fred Bellefeuille.

By Faye Sabourin

PIC RIVER FIRST NATION – The constitution development project is underway for the 2014–15 fiscal year in Pic River which will enable the community, foremost, to create its own laws.

The community of 1200 citizens began working on constitutional development in 2006 which unfortunately did not continue on a consistent basis until recently. The Governance Coordinator, Cindy Fisher, took the lead role along with the other members of the Constitution Committee with the support of council, and made it a priority in the community.

Union of Ontario Indians legal council Fred Bellefeuille and special projects coordinator Faye Sabourin visited the Ojibways of Pic River and provided resources and conducted a legal review of the Pic River constitution – Biigitigong First Nation Chi-Naaknigewin.  The committee members led great discussion surrounding who the people of Biigitigong are, what the land and territory consist of, public institutions, duties and functions of Chief and Council, the rights of Biigitigong people and the inherent right to self-government.

The committee had many interesting and essential questions moving forward, that included topics surrounding the delegation of authority, appeals and redress, accountability and the law making process and powers. With law-making being the most sensitive and thought-provoking provision, legal counsel offered to take the draft back to the UOI head office to further review and provide options and ideas to best suit Pic River in the area of a law-making process and powers.

Next steps for the Pic River Constitution Committee includes requesting a second legal review which is to be scheduled in September 2014, to thoroughly review the draft constitution, educate and engage citizens for input and suggestions on the draft constitution.