Chief Henderson set to tackle Sagkeeng’s challenges

Sagkeeng’s new Chief and Council at the swearing in ceremony held on Monday April 15 at the Sagkeeng School.

Sagkeeng Election 2019

By Don Norman

Full Election Results

The Sagkeeng election held last week held a few surprises. As expected, Chief Derrick Henderson was re-elected with 692 votes However, unlike in the 2017 election, where Chief Henderson’s defeated his closest challenger by over 400 votes, only 82 votes separated him from the 27 year old, Former CFL offensive lineman, Tchissakid (T-Dre) Player, who wound up with 610 votes.

The Sagkeeng election held last week held a few surprises. As expected, Chief Derrick Henderson was re-elected with 692 votes However, unlike in the 2017 election, where Chief Henderson’s defeated his closest challenger by over 400 votes, only 82 votes separated him from the 27 year old, Former CFL offensive lineman, Tchissakid (T-Dre) Player, who wound up with 610 votes.

The council saw some significant changes as well. Band councillors are elected at large and this year two more seats were added to council to raise the tally from four to six. Incumbents Marylin Courchene and Mark Courchene went down to defeat. John (Johnish) Courchene and Linda Dorie were re-elected and four new councillors joining them: Dylan Courchene; Erin Courchene; Tania Twoheart-Bunn; and Henry Swampy. The chief and council were sworn in at a ceremony in the Sagkeeng High school gymnasium on Monday, April 15.

The Advocate asked Chief Henderson some questions about his priorities and goals, going forward. He said that currently, the biggest challenge is the crystal meth crisis that is plaguing all the communities in the local area. “Sagkeeng plans on addressing this crisis with community input and recommendations,” said Chief Henderson. He said the discussions have been going on for a while but now is the time to deal with it. “It is not going to go away, we have to deal with the dealers and the addicts.” He noted that they have a ‘community safety bylaw’ that has been presented to the community at previous meetings, that council will soon be implementing. “It is time to take action,” he said.

Chief Henderson said that Sagkeeng has to build on some of the community’s assets. One of these assets is the He spoke of revamping the education system. “We will educate our children to be successful.” He said that with successful students you can educate them further about the needs of the community, so they can return and work with the community as professionals. Chief Henderson noted the importance of land based education so the students will understand where they came from and who they are. “If they know who they are, Anicinabe, then they would understand that the issues of drugs, addictions, etc is not part of being Anicinabe,” he said. “The students have to know who they are and that is what the education system will be focusing on. We will not leave out the academics and we have to use the holistic approach in the education system.”

Chief Henderson also noted the importance of The Sagkeeng Mino Pimatiziwin Treatment Centre. “It is an excellent facility for treatment for families and it is accredited internationally,” he said. “We are looking at expanding the programs so we can have an outpatient program for clients.” With the opioid crisis reaching alarming levels, he said the addicts need to be treated before our communities and the addicts themselves suffer greater harm from the epidemic. “We have an opportunity to provide treatment for people who are seeking help and for them to have a better life.”

Looking ahead to the future, Chief Henderson said that there are a lot of seeds planted that should bear fruit in the coming years but cautioned that results are not always immediate. “Negotiations at all levels take time and patience and support is required so the results will be for the community to benefit now and for the future.” One example is the Kapyong agreement with the Treaty 1 First Nations. “These negotiations have been ongoing for the past 15 years and we have agreed with the Canada to settle the lands and the Treaty 1 First Nations will have an urban reserve on this property,” the Chief said. “The economic and employment opportunities along with business ventures will provide the Treaty 1 communities with sustainable and long term funding benefits on an equal basis.”

Similarly, the Treaty Land Entitlement has been an ongoing negotiation for Sagkeeng. “Sagkeeng was shorted land when Treaty 1 was signed in 1871 and now with a land settlement this will provide economic benefits and opportunities where we can develop businesses and employment,” noted the Chief.

The band is also working on an agreement with Manitoba Hydro. “This will be negotiated and needs to be resolved and terms will need to be agreed on.” Chief Henderson said he expects the economic benefits will provide funds to the nation to create business opportunities, provide funding for infrastructure and employment for band members.