Wab Kinew as National Chief: from the perspective of a Nordern Anishinaabe man…

The Assembly of First Nations meeting is taking place right now in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the land of our Mikmaq and Maliseet brothers, its mig-ma not mic-mac I was always told when I lived with the people of Red Bank and Eel Ground in New Brunswick. Very nice people who took care of me during my time there and I found them very similar to the many First Nations from home, but also different in many ways. In saying that, what does it take to lead the different First Nations from the East to the West Coast? A tough proposition. A decision as to who will lead will be made in Winnipeg this December.

I have been reading articles about Wab Kinew running for National Chief and I am keeping a close eye on the results when they come and I am hopeful he is selected, a little bias yes but I will tell you why. Wab and I are the same age, we both originate from Treaty 3, myself from Shoal Lake, he from Onigaming, and our fathers are remembered as prominent leaders of their respective Nations who did so at the same time having worked together. My father was Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski-Nation, Treaty # 9, while Wab’s father served as Grand Chief of Grand Council Treaty # 3. I also became good friends and worked for Wab’s sister Diane Kelly during her term as Grand Chief of Treaty #3. Many connections through family, but the strongest connection being the land to which we come from, a vast territory of Anishinaabe people.

I stated yesterday that Wab running for National Chief is a good thing and let me say why. He represents a generation of change, a generation of next, in a world changing extremely fast. He represents my generation, one that is often forgotten by Government, a mistake. Residential school survivors but not quite, because we didn’t actually attend, just raised by parents who did, but survivors nonetheless who heard, experienced and lived the stories of the wrongs committed to the people we love. A generation that overcame huge obstacles to become educated, empowered and innovative thinkers, but rooted in our land, culture and traditions, an awesome combination, a scary one for the Government.

The criticism against Wab is that he does not have the experience, might be putting the cart before the horse . As I stated before, I don’t know enough about the 633 Chiefs and how they might vote to form a valid opinion. But in my personal opinion Wab running for leadership sets a precedent for young Anishinaabe to put their names forth to lead in different capacities. It gives them the courage, inspiration and confidence to do the same within their communities, regions or like Wab, at the National level, in both Native and non-Native politics. A success within itself.

So in saying that I wish the very best of luck to my friend Wab. The campaigning and election will be a daunting task, but the task of being a National leader is not an impossible one.  Our territories in the North are rich with resources, stories and teachings. If my readers have visited our communities in Treaty # 3 and Treaty # 9 they will see why Wab is well developed in the art of story-telling and communicating and why young lawyers like myself understand and study the laws that govern our people and lands, a skill needed to protect both the latter and former.

A national leader like Wab from a territory strong in Anishinaabe values, will bring them to the forefront of an organization in need of restoration and I believe he will be a positive change in one that needs it, a concept that our generation represents, positive change.


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