Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee. – Photo by Jody Kechego

Spring has arrived, apparently.  On behalf of the Anishinabek Nation, I would like to extend our best wishes to Josephine Mandamin as she and her helpers make their final “Great Lakes Water Walk” over the next several weeks – I wish her a safe journey with great weather.  Josephine is steadfast in her protection and awareness for the water and she exemplifies one of the most incredible examples of dedication and perseverance I have had the pleasure of knowing.

The Anishinabek Nation and the Iroquois Caucus have joined forces in declaring our respective territories as off limits to the planned relocation of radioactive waste from Chalk River to the US.  We issued a joint letter to Prime Minister Trudeau to express our concerns and are planning for formal declaration to be publicly made at the Special Chiefs Assembly this week in Ottawa.

In noting the 100 year anniversary of Vimy Ridge where quite a number of Anishinabek participated in WWI, the Anishinabek Nation travelled with two Veterans from each of our four regions to take part in remembrance.  Regional Grand Council Chiefs accompanied the Veterans and it was an incredible experience for us all to be on site to mark this auspicious occasion.  The Anishinabek Nation political office is seeking the names and contact information of all living veterans within the 40 Anishinabek Nation communities.  Correspondence to this effort has been sent to all Chiefs.

Seeking transformation in Health on behalf of the Anishinabek Nation is a priority and this effort is being led by Chief Thomas Bressette together with a Chiefs Negotiating team that has been identified.  We expect good cooperation from Ontario and are beginning discussions with Health Canada. The intent is to have Anishinabek take responsibility for delivering, administering and managing our own health services that will truly benefit our people by our people.  We are proudly and boldly advancing this plan knowing that our communities have the expertise, the capacity and the desire to move forward – the status quo is no longer satisfactory.

The Anishinabek Nation has had remarkable success with negotiating the Master Education Agreement with Ontario that is intended to partner well with the Anishinabek Education System.  Deputy Grand Council Chief Glen Hare is attending all of the community engagement sessions to ensure all information on how both these agreements will create significant opportunity for strengthening our students’ outcomes.

The Anishinabek Housing Blueprint and Water Needs Assessment is making progress as we navigate the necessary processes towards self-determination in ensuring that our infrastructure needs are understood and met.  Communities are clear; they want direct involvement in these areas.  There are far too many players in the water crisis of First Nation and a very notable absence of First Nations themselves.  This must change.

Over the next few weeks, the regional Leadership meetings will be taking place.  The Southeast Chiefs met last week in Alderville and the Southwest will meet on May 2, while in Ottawa. The Superior Chiefs will meet on May 8, in Thunder Bay and the Huron Chiefs on May 18, at the Manitoulin Island Conference Centre. This is a great opportunity to discuss regional opportunities, issues and concerns.

Aamjiwnaang is the host community for Grand Council that will occur June 5-7, 2017.  We are introducing an element called “open mic”, an opportunity to hear from the Anishinabek Nation citizens on your visions for a better future for Anishinabek by Anishinabek.  I look forward to seeing you there.

April 2017 Meetings:

4th –                        Anishinabek Nation Health Transformation – Toronto

4th –                        First Nation Water Crisis Chiefs Forum – Toronto

5th –                        Anishinabek Nation Joint meeting with Iroquois Caucus – Toronto

5-11th                     Vimy Ridge – travel with Anishinabek Nation Veterans – France

12-13                     Strategy for Safer Ontario (Policing)

20th                         Anishinabek Nation Housing Blueprint and Water Needs Assessment

24th                         Great Lakes Guardian Council

27th                         Southeast Regional Chiefs mtg. – Alderville

29th                         Health Community Challenge – MSS