Congratulations to the citizens of Sheguiandah First Nation on last weekend’s 25th anniversary annual traditional powwow.
The weather was ideal and the powwow was, as usual, a highlight summer event for many people, including those not of First Nation heritage, culture and ancestry.
The powwow was held just a week after the funeral services for Chief Richard Shawanda who had come into office in the most recent tribal election, although not in good health then, as part of the effort to normalize the offices of the community’s chief and council following more than a year of disagreements among members of the previous council; rancorous to the extent that two members of council were active participants in a months-long public protest directed against the remaining two members of council (one band councillor and the chief) and as part of this protest, did not attend council meetings and thus denied a quorum to any scheduled meetings.
The late Chief Shawanda had held the chief’s position, previously, for many years, and had also served as a band councillor and so he was a good choice to help the community move out of its seemingly permanent state of internal strife.
The powwow, overseen nearly every year since its inception by Chief Shawanda’s sister and brother-in-law Pearl and Gord Waindubence, was coincidentally something of a memorial event, at least in many people’s minds, for the late Chief Shawanda, but it also serves as a message of hope and goodwill for this small community that certainly will not want to revisit the time of public discord.
Chief Shawanda passed away while in office but this year happens to be an election year in the community’s governance cycle.
In the spirit of the powwow, those seeking to represent the citizens of Sheguiandah First Nation as their elected officials when the election is held some time this year must do so thoughtfully and for all of the right reasons: the desire to offer service to their community now and for the generations to come.