All candidates organize a Zoom meeting in SRFN

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On the afternoon of October 16, all of the Serpent River First Nation (SRFN) candidates for election gathered in the Band Hall for a Zoom meeting with the community.

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While the meeting is open to community members to attend in person, COVID-19 protocols have limited the number of people who can attend in person. As a result, a decision was made early on to go online with a Zoom meeting allowing all members of the community to attend if they wished.

The meeting ran from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. with speeches from all candidates as well as a live and online question-and-answer period.

Robert Porter, a resident of the Sagamok Anishnawabek First Nation, moderated the meeting. Porter opened the meeting by explaining to everyone present the purpose of the meeting and how it worked. He stressed that he wanted everyone to leave after the meeting “feeling good” about the meeting. Prior to the start of the meeting, a prayer was offered by SRFN elder and poet Emma Meawasige. Elder Meawasige said the prayer in the Ojibway language.

This year’s election has three candidates for the position of leader, all of whom have experience in leadership roles in the community. Outgoing chef Brent Bissaillion spoke first, followed by Earl Commanda, a former chef from years ago. Elaine Johnston, RN and former chef before Bissaillion, spoke last.

Each contestant described their platforms and talked about their past accomplishments and how they have been involved in the community over the past few years. Bissaillion stressed the need for communication and dialogue between the chiefs and councils on duty with the whole community, including elders, families and young people, whom he called “our future leaders”.

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“The voice of the community is necessary to move the community forward,” he said.

Commanda spoke of many improvements and achievements made in the past and the need for dialogue between leaders and community members.

Johnston told participants that the most important thing as leaders is to “work together” with all members of the community.

Following the lead nominees, the councilors’ presentations addressed their concerns and what they wanted for the community, as well as their past experience with community engagement. There are 12 candidates vying for a seat on the board, of which six will be elected. Eight of the council candidates attended in person.

The SRFN election will take place on October 30 at the Music Hall.

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