Meet the ogimaa (chief) candidates for Aundeck Omni Kaning. Advance poll opens August 26

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Aundeck Omni Kaning Votes 2020

Patsy Corbiere seeks election for fourth term as ogimaa-kwe

by Alicia McCutcheon

AUNDECK OMNI KANING – Incumbent Patsy Corbiere is running for her fourth term as chief in the August 29 Aundeck Omni Kaning (AOK) election.

Ms. Corbiere spoke of her many years of political experience as both ogimaa and before that, band councillor. Ms. Corbiere is also the Tribal Chair of the United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising.

“With this experience, I have first-hand knowledge and experience in all issues facing our First Nation,” Ms. Corbiere said.

Ms. Corbiere pointed to a number of projects that were accomplished during her past term in office including new dockage at the marina, construction of two new tri-plex residential units, the decommissioning of the landfill site, the newly-constructed waste transfer station, the purchase of a new excavator and loader and the purchase of two privately-owned properties, making up 86.86 acres to be used for both residential and commercial developments. Ms. Corbiere also noted the new employment positions created in the community during her tenure.

Patsy Corbiere

Ms. Corbiere is also proud of the creation of the Gwekwaadziwin Miikan addiction treatment centre, which has its head office in AOK. “The treatment centre has created many job opportunities for AOK band members and rental revenue for the First Nation.”

Ms. Corbiere said, if elected, she hopes to continue to advocate for her community’s needs, be it child welfare, court, family issues, employment and emergency needs. “It is a role that I take tremendous pride in, despite the challenges.”

Ms. Corbiere said she is also looking forward to continuing her work with the litigation management team working to settle the Robinson Huron Treaty (RHT) claim. “As a plaintiff and a member of the RHT litigation committee, we have worked hard in moving this case forward by successfully winning Phases 1 and 2 of the court proceedings. Hopefully, the RHT claim will be finalized by 2021 as we move forward with Phase 3 of the negotiation process.”

Ms. Corbiere said she also hopes to obtain an offer of settlement in the Manitoulin Project claim to hopefully finalize that issue. The incumbent promises to continue the process of seeing the 1990 Land Claim settled. “The government must recognize the spirit and intent of the claim,” she added.

This term, Ms. Corbiere promises the creation of an elders’ and youth council; community consultation on future initiatives and projects including rental shortages for single band members; continuing the development of the waterfront park which would include establishing an RV site for band members; the continued hunt for a new education and cultural centre; election reform and policy development with input from both on- and off-reserve community members; the creation of more jobs and training opportunities; and discussing the “underlying factors that are affecting the well-being, social and health of the community through a community collaboration process.”

“I believe in building a community where people feel they belong,” Ms. Corbiere said, “where they feel that they are at home and safe. Effective leadership is not just about political roles but is learned through volunteering and becoming positive role models.”

“A leader must govern with integrity, good will, clear conscience and a strong heart—the same values and goals that brought me to work hard and advocate for all members of AOK, not just at election time, but throughout my career as well,” the incumbent for ogimaa continued.

The AOK election advance poll takes place this evening, Wednesday, August 26, from 6 pm to 9 pm and the polls are again open on Saturday, August 29 from 9 am to 6 pm at the AOK Community Centre.

Marvin Assinewai: Growing the community to self-sufficiency

by Michael Erskine

AUNDECK OMNI KANING – Marvin Assinewai is no stranger to the council table, having served four terms as an Aundeck Omni Kaning councillor, but it is his experience and knowledge of the underlying mechanics of the federal and provincial governments that he sees as one of his greatest assets to the community as chief.

Mr. Assinewai is a charter graduate of the Native Teacher Program, entering the program in 1984 and in 1986 was a member of that program’s first crop of graduates. “Before that I spent about three months in the Sault studying in the civil engineering program,” he said. While he met the stringent requirements for that program, he decided that it was not for him.

Mr. Assinewai cites his years of working in education and the familiarity with First Nations across the North, including the James Bay councils, as providing him with a strong understanding of how to chart a course forward to prosperity. It is the prosperity of the individual band members which will lead to a greater self-sufficiency for the band.

“Unemployment is one of the greatest challenges facing our community,” he said. “There are a number of viable ideas that our community members have—they need the support to bring those ideas forward. I know I can be effective to helping the community to grow.”

It was to accept a position with Kinoomaadziwin Education Body (KEB) that led Mr. Assinewai to reluctantly cut his last term on council short. “I felt that working with all the other First Nations didn’t look good, so I had to resign,” he said.

Marvin Assinewai

KEB is the central administrative structure for the Anishinabek Education System and, as such, distributes federal education funding to the participating First Nations. The KEB takes direction from those nations to support the implementation of the regional education councils’ educational priorities, while working with those First Nations to establish system-wide education standards and manage education relationships with the Ontario Ministry of Education. Aundeck Omni Kaning is part of regional education council two, which also includes Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation, Sheshegwaning First Nation, Zhiibaahaasing First Nation, Whitefish River First Nation and Michipicoten First Nation.

 Mr. Assinewai points to a “whole wealth of knowledge” he garnered while working with KEB as a strong asset should the community select him to lead Aundeck Omni Kaning into the future.

“There are many ideas that could help grow employment in the community,” he said. “People are able to sit at home and work or work off-reserve if they have the opportunity.”

Advance polls open today, Wednesday, August 26 from 6 pm to 9 pm, with the final poll taking place on Saturday, August 20 from 9 am to 6 pm.