SHEGUIANDAH FIRST NATION – The new chief of the Sheguiandah First Nation has outlined a very ambitious list of priorities in his platform for the current council and the community.
“It is a very ambitious platform, but when you have the right team, it is attainable,” stated Elvis J. Mishibinijima, newly elected Chief of the Sheguiandah First Nation in an interview with The Expositor last week.
Mr. Mishibinijima was elected as new chief in the band council elections held December 9 in the community. He is joined for the next two-year term with incumbent council members Alison Aguonie and Pearl Waindubence, along with new councillor Sunset Sagutch.
Chief Mishibinijima, who had just finished his second consecutive term as a councillor (prior to being elected as chief) said, “many members of the community requested that I run for Chief. They figured it was time for a change, and I accepted.”
Chief Mishibinijima outlined several projects and programs he would like to see established by council. “Education is high on my list of priorities; it is important that everyone work toward and gain their post- secondary education Ontario diploma. And training opportunities need to be provided for mature students as well.”
“Culture and language are basic, and we need to have this in place to retain our language and members of the community. It is important to provide opportunities for everyone in the community to be able to speak our language so we never lose this. It is very important,” said Chief Mishibinijima.
“Economic development is another focus, starting with new and existing projects, providing additional training opportunities for members of the community, which will in turn hopefully end up in jobs being created,” said Chief Mishibinijima, noting that it is too early in the term of council to outline economic development projects being considered.
“Food security is definitely one program that will benefit the entire community,” said Chief Mishibinijima. “I have proposed developing a community cupboard, where we can stockpile our own food. So, if there is a shutdown due to the pandemic or other issues, we will still have our own pool of local food in the community to draw from and benefit everyone.”
“Land claims are high on my priority list,” continued Chief Mishibinijima. “We are the oldest Native settlement in the area,” he said, noting the claim will be new. We’re going to hold on to that one for now (as to specific details on the claim).”
Chief Mishibinijima said, “I would like to start establish a youth and knowledge-keeper advisory committee.”
“Community communication seems to have been shut down between the council and chief and the community, maybe because of COVID-19,” said Chief Mishibinijima. “This may be the main reasons that members of the community wanted change.”
“Moving forward, our Sheguiandah First Nation constitution, which was in development, has been at standstill for a while. This will be a focus. A better tomorrow and better governance is a benefit to everyone in the community,” continued Chief Mishibinijima.
He noted as well Sheguiandah will be looking at developing its own custom election code, “made for Sheguiandah First Nation by Sheguiandah First Nation.”
“We need to educate all community members and non-Aboriginal people, everybody, on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Calls to Action, using the Seven Grandfather Teachings to guide us; educating on the impact of past history and what this has done to our people, and recovery for future generations.”
Chief Mishibinijima said, “I would like to thank my nominees and thank the community for believing in me and electing me as chief.”
In the first week since the election, “oh yes, we hit the ground running,” he added.