Patsy Corbiere returned as chief in AOK

AUNDECK OMNI KANING—The Aundeck Omni Kaning band elections on August 30 saw Chief Patsy Corbiere returned to office along with Mike Abotossaway, Ryan Corbiere, Karen McGraw and Marvin Assinewai. Newly elected members Irene C. Altiman, Beverly Wilson and Joyce Madahbee will join the reelected incumbents at the eight-member council table.

Chief Corbiere said she had been pleased with the entire timbre of this election campaign, congratulating all parties for conducting respectful and positive campaigns and welcoming the new faces around the table.

“I think we have a very good mix of old faces and new people,” she said. “New people can bring new ideas to the table, but there have been very positive messages put forward and we will be working together as a team.”

That team includes members of the community and Chief Corbiere said she hopes that the community will bring their issues to the council table to be dealt with rather than sniping on social media. “I asked people ‘does social media address your concerns?’” said Chief Corbiere.

She noted that a lot of the candidates did not actively campaign. “They are who they are 52 weeks of the year,” said Chief Corbiere.

This council will have a great blueprint going forward, noted the chief, pointing out that the previous council, in conjunction with a great deal of community consultation, had formulated a five-year strategic plan earlier this year.

Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation is taking full advantage of the federal housing and marketing credit, a hitherto underutilized federal program “that will help band members get mortgages and loans,” said the chief. “There are already band members taking out mortgages.”

Historically it has proven challenging for First Nations members to gain mortgages and loans. Through the program, loans are guaranteed much like mortgages from Canada Mortgage and Housing, making dealing with lending institutions much smoother.

Under the program, participating First Nations band members can attain mortgages up to $250,000 for new construction and up to $50,000 for renovations.

Overall, a primary goal for Aundeck Omni Kaning is to become more self-reliant. “There are so many government bills out there that are making things more difficult for First Nations,” noted Chief Corbiere.

The band is coming off of a couple of key court victories, one involving a centuries-old dispute over two $500 payments made to ineligible band members. That issue traces its roots back to when the Ojibways of Sucker Creek reserve was first set up, when two families were awarded $500 each as part of the settlement. In the course of the intervening 100 years, and with the magic of compound interest, that $1,000 has expanded meaning that one court victory alone could mean as much as $3 million for the band coffers. A government offer to settle for $100,000 was previously turned down by Aundeck Omni Kaning.

The council will be reviewing its policies and procedures to bring them up to date, and the issues of decommissioning the band’s old landfill site and dealing with the community’s waste will be among top priorities going forward.

“We also have to look at a new elder’s complex,” noted Chief Corbiere. While Aundeck Omni Kaning has a relatively young population “we have a lot of people 50-plus coming up,” she said. “Our current elders’ centre was built in the 1980s.”

Chief Corbiere said that among the things she would like to revisit in the comprehensive review is the way committees operate their portfolios, providing a clearer delineation between governance and management. Chief Corbiere praised the band staff for their professional and focussed work ethic. “The staff have been the backbone of the community,” she said.

“We are a well-managed and well-organized community,” noted Chief Corbiere. “We are always looking for opportunities and partnership possibilities.”

The overriding perspective Chief Corbiere said that she would like to see dominate the council table is a simple maxim: “Don’t forget who you work for,” she said. “Without the community, we don’t have jobs.”

The results of the poll for chief were Patsy Rita Diane Corbiere, 142 votes, and Peter Nahwegahbow, 67 votes. Council results were Daniel Craig Abotossaway 73, Kelly Ray Abotossaway 78, Michael Lorne Abotossaway 90, Terence Stanley Abotossaway 70, Irene Carrie Altiman 110, Marvin Reginald Assinewai 126, Cynthia Mary Behm 57, Darrell Patrick Paul Corbiere 39, Ryan Christopher George Corbiere 112, Christine Anne Phyliss 68, Trevor Evans Esquimaux 70, Anna Marie General 36, Ingrid Joan Madahbee 73, Joyce Beatrice Madahbee 80, Alfred Bradley Nahwegahbow 57, Karen Teresa McGraw-Shokan 129 and Beverly Annie Gail Wilson 91.