Patsy Corbiere elected chief in AOK race

by Alicia McCutcheon

AUNDECK OMNI KANING—In a close race Saturday, Aundeck Omni Kaning (AOK) First Nation, elected a new chief in Patsy Corbiere, one who promises financial accountability and community involvement in the planning process over the next three years.

Ms. Corbiere won the election with 131 votes to incumbent Craig Abotossaway’s 118. Band council consists of three re-elected councillors, Scott Madahbee, Mike Abotossaway and Terry Abotossaway, while four new faces will sit at the table: Dawn Madahbee, Karen McGraw, Marvin Assinewai, and Ryan Corbiere.

When contacted by The Expositor on Monday, Chief Corbiere was already hard at work meeting with band manager Peter Nawegahbow and other members of staff. She said she and Mr. Nahwegahbow would be working closely together and was seeking his input, as well as that of staff managers and community elders, as to the direction the community will take.

The chief ran on a platform of four key areas: education, economic development, community health and wellness and governance.

“I’ll go to the managers to see what their goals are for the next three years,” she said.

A strategic planning session is in the works for January, Chief Corbiere noted, while the first council meeting is slated for next week. Ms. Corbiere is a veteran at many levels in her community having served as a band manager and councillor.

“We need to apply for funding and not rely on band resources,” she said, noting a look at band finances was high on her list, adding that by no means was the First Nation “in bad shape. We need to see what we can do with the resources we have.”

“Generating our own funds through economic development will be a priority to effectively develop a self-sustainable AOK,” the chief told The Expositor in a previous interview. “It is important that we concentrate on opportunities that are a natural fit to our geography such as the tourism industry, utilizing AOK farm properties for sustainable initiatives or joint-venture opportunities and current assets such as the Wabuno fish processing plant and initiating discussions with large resource-based industries in our traditional territories.”

“We’re working together for the betterment of the community,” she concluded, noting that no staff changes were planned.