WIKWEMIKONG—Wikwemikong Chief Duke Peltier was re-elected by a landslide in the band elections held Saturday, August 20, but contacted on Monday following the vote count, his first comments after thanking his community were for his family and his fellow candidates for chief.
“I am very humbled,” admitted Ogimaa Peltier of the strong mandate he received from his community. “I have to express my thanks to my family, without them I would not be able to fulfill my role as ogimaa. I know I have my family’s support.”
“I also want to thank all the other candidates for chief for the offer of their ideas, for bringing forward their ideas on what they feel is important to the community,” he said. “I want to congratulate them and the other members of council for putting their names forward for these very important roles. I know the councillors that have been elected are prepared to help create a vibrant, healthy community so that we can all raise out families.”
Ogimaa Peltier said that there are three things that are always important to the community: “the protecting of our resources, that is the people, the land and the water.”
The newly elected chief said that there are areas that have to be prioritized going forward over the next two years. “One of those is reconciling the issue of the islands claim and the resolution of long standing issues,” he said.
The preservation of language and cultural knowledge will also be front and centre on his agenda, he noted. “This is especially important for our young people. The youth need to be nurtured and taught their roots and their identity.”
In order to be able to make the kinds of investments needed to provide that support, the band also needs to keep a close eye to economic development, “especially with some of the projects that are currently going through a due diligence process,” said Ogimaa Peltier, pointing to two innovative projects in the technology sector being pursued. “One is forestry resources based and the other in agriculture.”
“I think that health should be a priority also,” he said, noting that current efforts focussed on identification and prevention of chronic diseases is important, citing as an example the Ontario Renal Network project.
“The expansion of our long-term care home is necessary,” said Ogimaa Peltier. “I still feel that we as a community deserve a family health team.” The chief pointed out that Wikwemikong is the largest community on the Island and yet a number of smaller communities already have a family health team established. “We are going to continue to raise it with the Local Health Integration Network.”
Another health related project he would like to see brought to fruition is the building of a healing lodge, completing the work and vision that was started a number of years ago.
Finally, Ogimaa Peltier said that the coming term would see the development, with deep community consultation, of new governance laws for the Wikwemikong Unceded Territory.
“That is our way,” he said. “We have a reading, then it goes back to the community, we have a reading and then it goes back to the community, and then we have a reading before it is passed.”
Ogimaa Peltier noted that the old term of council ends as of August 26 and that the new council will be sworn in at a ceremony starting at 10 am on Wednesday, September 1 at Thunderbird Park (rain location is the arena). “The entire community is invited,” said Ogimaa Peltier. “There will be a barbecue and meet and greet at noon.”