Minutes taken by Tom Keefer.
Ojibway Nation of Saugeen No.258 Citizens in attendance: Chief Edward Machimity, Violet Hill-Machimity, John Sapay Sr., Eileen Keesic, Darrell Keesic, Norma Machimity, Rebecca Machimity, Lillian Necan, Shyla Necan, Virginia Necan, Summer Bergman-Necan, Donna Necan-Rogers, Darlene Necan, Melony Necan, Deja Necan, Ron Machimity Sr., Glen Machimity, Desiree Jacko, John Machimity, Mary Machimity-Jacko, Kelly Machimity;
Non members in attendance: Band Lawyer Douglas Keshen, Tom Keefer, Theresa Ombash Machimity (baby) from Cat Lake;
The meeting began at 10:45am in the third floor conference room Best Western in Sioux Lookout ON, Canada.
1. Opening of the meeting. The meeting was opened with a prayer by Chief Edward Machimity.
2. Approval of Agenda.Doug Keshen read aloud the agenda proposed by Darlene Necan. No changes were made to the agenda and Doug Keshen proceeded to facilitate the meeting.
2.5 Reimbursements. Chief Ed Machimity said he would not agree to give reimbursements to the people since he had not called the meeting. Instead he said, the people that organized the meeting should provide reimbursements to Chief and Council for coming. At lunchtime, Doug Keshen agreed to pay for cost of sandwiches and food for lunch. The cost of rental for the room booking was paid by the efforts of fundraising, 3. Report from Chief and Headmen. Doug Keshen read a report from the Chief Edward Machimity. The full text of this report is appended to the minutes. In summary, some of the issues discussed include the transmission line. Goes through Saugeen No.258 territory for 300 km but would not provide any benefit to the people until after 25 years. The Council are close to something that can be shared with financial benefits, business and employment opportunities as part of the package. Tough negotiation, lots of lawyers involved. More info will be available once the issue is negotiated. Doug Keshen noted that they have provided over 60 pages of documentation to the Ministry of the Environment criticizing the transmission route. The community centre complex is coming along and aimed to be completed by the October. It was paid for using the Casino Rama Funds and applying for other funds. Commercial kitchen to be used daily as a coffee shop. It will be the main office for the band. Contest for naming the community centre. Congrats to everyone for completing the school year. Ring of fire. Power line and separate road. As many as 250 truckloads of material could be being hauled down to Savant Lake, every day. Should be looking at other businesses and spin off opportunities. Ignace as a possible site of nuclear waste disposal. Proposing 4 year learn more approach. Now narrowed down to five sites to hold all nuclear waste. They want to build it by 2042. Saugeen now has standing at the National inquiry into MMIWG. Governance. Four original families that constituted the Ojibway Nation of Saugeen decided in the 1980s that they didn’t want to be limited by the Indian act and so they established the convention, which has served us well, but has now reached the time to review. Chief wants to arrange sessions over the course of the next few months and have as many people as possible involved in the process. Community gathering and feast. First Annual gathering for all members on and off reserve. Identify all created the Saugeen and convention and custom usage framework. Founding members MNR. Chief arguing with MNR. Read full three page document for full report.
4. Discussion on Cannabis. Darlene Necan stated that she believes that cannabis is a viable economic opportunity and wants to pursue it. John Machimity brought up the medical research and advances in the use of cannabis being made in Israel. John also provided medical information about the uses of cannabis in treating epileptic seizures.
Chief Edward Machimity spoke against the use of Marijuana and says that it is “no good” and should not be allowed on reserve. John Machimity said that the real problem is alcohol not cannabis. Eileen Keesic expressed concerns about potential criminal elements being involved in the cannabis industry and says that it could become like bootlegging.
Tom Keefer provided some information on the many indigenous cannabis dispensaries that are currently operating in Southern Ontario. The great majority of these shops are medicinal and are supporting patients with a wide range of different products. Lots of people are using cannabis to combat opioid addiction. Many of the shops are being run by members of the bear clan who are traditionally responsible for providing medicines. Millions of dollars are being made through this industry outside of the Indian act. Crime is down, drunk driving is down, employment is up.
5. Report by Darlene Necan concerning traditional “Review Process”. Darlene explained that as she understands the Saugeen Custom and Usage Convention, the review process follows the traditional process for selecting leadership. The principles are that everyone is equal, and that the extended families pick their “headmen” which are the people who carry the voices of the people of each family to be the council. The Chief is chosen by the people as a whole who stand behind their choice for Chief. There are four main families – the Machimity’s with two sets of families, the Chief’s family and his brothers. The Necan’s are the other big family with two separate groups. The other two family groups are the Hill’s, Kitchkeesic’s, Peter’s, and Sapay’s. Also the question of where the Maggotte’s belong. Darlene states that the 2ND next meeting will be in August. Then the people have until the December 9th, 2018 meeting to pick their family representatives as headmen.
Darlene Necan stated that her family has discussed matters and wants to move to Savant Lake, and “take it back as a land extension from Saugeen No.258,. Indian affairs can take a hike, because this is our land and our territory. We’re not wanted and liked on reserve, we’ll be the bigger people and move out. But it will be another battle because you’ll have to share money with us.”
Chief Edward Machimity responded that he views things differently. The Chief explained that he picks his own council of headmen. Chief Edward said that an elder once told him that whoever comes to the band office and volunteers or does the work, that’s the people your supposed to work with. The chief added that under his understanding of the review process, at the December 9th, 2018 gathering, the people could bring their opinions if they want. If there’s the money to do what they want, then it is a possibility, and if not then it wouldn’t happen.
Tom Keefer raised the question of what the term “principle opinion” means in the context of the Convention. Doug Keshen said that originally the convention was composed orally in Ojibway and then someone interpreted and wrote it in English. So thus, it is open to interpretation. According to Doug Keshen “The way [Chief] Ed has always explained it is that the idea is that all people be able to express their views and those views be considered…. It’s not a concept of consensus, it’s something different than that. It’s a matter of hearing and respecting everyone’s views, and that somehow decisions will be made from that. In other words it will emerge. It’s a non-whiteman’s kind of way of thinking. People will express opinions and that will all be considered with whatever.”
Tom Keefer asked a follow up question to Chief Edward to confirm with him that in his view, “everyone had the right to voice their opinion and to have it heard, but when it comes to the selection of the headman in the traditional way, are you saying that it is the chief who makes the decision based upon the opinions of the people?” The chief agreed and added “the elder instructed me. You can see a person that is faithful to do something to help and volunteer and doesn’t complain – that person should be a headman.”
When asked who would pick the next Chief, Chief Edward said that he would, adding that “it’s already been identified who’s going to be the next Chief.” At this point Darlene Necan interjected saying the word “no” repeatedly. The Chief continued, saying that with his last breath he could pick the new Chief who would pick the next headmen.
When asked why then he needed a review process at all, he said that “that’s the time when they’re going to bring whatever opinions they have and that’s where we’re going to iron out and discuss things.“
Doug Keshen explained the concept as follows: “listening to people, gathering information. In the end, one person will express those views in the forms of decisions. It’s not Ed making the decision, he’s listening to everyone. For example, if there’s going to be a representative from the Necan’s as a headman, then he’s going to hear what those views are, and he’s going to articulate those views.” Keshen added that “an expression of common views or of consensus – whatever you want to call it – has to be ultimately become manifested in a decision. But it’s not Ed making the decision, it’s him taking in all the information and then expressing it.”
John Machimity said that from his understanding, “It’s the people who decide who’s going to be the chief and the headmen…. If he [the Chief] decides than he’s not a Chief, he’s more of a dictator.”
Darlene then explaining her diagram in terms of the different families each choosing their headman. John Machimity “that’s how it was done in traditional native ways. “The chief would took opinions from everybody and based on that would make a decision. But the people themselves have the right to elect the chief who’s going to sit there and listen to them. The people in a meeting would stand beside the person they want as their spokesperson.”
21 years ago when the convention was accepted and the first Chief and Headmen were chosen, the Chief was chosen by election. “We voted as people in the first election” said ?Ron? The first Chief was elected with names on a secret ballot with a number of candidates running, said John Machimity.
Doug Keshen suggested that part of what can come out of the review process is an apprenticeship program for the younger generation. John Machimity says people are scared of their leadership.
Tom Keefer asked about the next meeting in the review process, the meeting that Darlene called for in her INSERT DATE letter. Darlene said that she wants to see what the people say and to have the next meeting in August.
Eileen said she wasn’t sure what dates would work for her and the other headmen because there are a lot of other meetings. Darlene said her family was willing to meet on weekends.
6. Concerns expressed by the people.
- Ron expresses concern that his father’s trapline (Gilbert Machimity) was taken and given to the Chief’s son Marvin Machimity without his or family’s consent. He wants it back. Keshen agrees to look into the matter further and says he will report back to council and to Ron. Darlene says “the land is waiting for you. Cut the grass and build.” Discussion of MNR keeping the people off of the land and disrespecting treaty rights. Keshen says there’s only so much resources to fight the MNR over the rights of the people to trap.
- Norma reads a statement in support of her father the chief and supports the foundations he has laid for the community. A good leader is strong and has good visions and lots of great accomplishments. To have others now trying to build on another leaders foundation just causes discord division and animosity among the people. Says that Darlene Necan doesn’t represent her on or off reserve. The Ojibway Nation of Saugeen is not responsible for personal needs or wants. After reading her statement she leaves.
- Virginia “We got to work together we’ve got bigger issues to deal with than fighting each other. We got to fight the Ring of Fire, Education and Health care. For Chief and Council there’s got be change. As of now we keep saying the same thing over and over again. We went to a trappers meeting and they’re giving all the licenses to trap to white guys. They wouldn’t even let us take pictures or video of the trap line distribution.
- Eileen agrees with Virginia, says that there’s lots of animosity.
- Johnny says issue is that the wealth is not being shared. A true leader would go to a person that’s hurting and pick them up. But that’s not happening, instead people are being told that they are not good enough and they’re being abandoned.
- Eileen Onus is on individual responsibility. We know what your asking but processes take time.
- Johnny expressed his frustration at how little the people are getting out of the building of the new community centre on reserve. Despite applying several times for work, he got no work. “But look at what’s going on, there’s a building going up and not even one band member works on that building.”
- Doug states that in the contractors agreement for the building, it explicitly states that council will not be involved in hiring. Plus there can be issues in terms of the certification and liability. The band has no control, it’s all up to the contractor because of insurance issues.
- Ron described his feelings of being treated like a second class citizen on the job site and being made to feel like he wasn’t being treated equally. That’s why he stopped working there. It was almost racial in tone.
- Doug agreed that this was a problem and should be looked into.
- Johnny asked what the name is of the company that has been created on behalf the community that has made a continuous contract with Resolute Forest Products for cutting trees on Saugeen land. Doug Keshen says that “after the meeting we can talk about it further, and that it may be an issue that we can work through. But essentially it is the band that has the rights.” John replied that “last year Chief Ed said that the company belonged to him only. Doug said he would look into the matter for clarification.
- Johnny also raised the issue of the contractor who came to his house and ruined it. He said his insurance would cover it but it never did. Eileen said she thought that already been taken care of. John said his ceiling is about fall in.
- Johnny reminded Doug about the time that he bought a furnace on his personal credit card for John. John says the band had nothing to do with it, Doug said he did so on the band’s direction because the band didn’t have a credit card and it needed to be purchased immediately.
- Johnny also noted that he was out of water for 12 months and Council didn’t help him.
- Eileen stated that she was afraid of John’s dogs and that was why she didn’t feel safe coming by his house.
- Donna says that she wants housing, change of leadership, working better together, if the Ring of Fire opens up will her son get a house?
- Doug said that council has been in regular contact with the players involved with the Ring of Fire including the head guy from Noront. He has agreed to provide priority jobs to build the road and work at the mine site. But not sure how long it will take, three years could be the timeframe.
- Concerning the issue of building in Savant Lake, Doug Keshen said that the idea of supporting the band members of Saugeen want to build in Savant we need to negotiate an agreement with the ministry which means that the province will have jurisdiction to deal with Crown lands. Bottom line is that there are opportunities.
- Deja, YOUTH; Concerned with her house with mould in the house, the steps are broken, there’s barely water in the water tank, only two rooms in the house and four of live there – me Mom, brother and great auntie and she’s an elder. Really need to fix the stairs because the elders have trouble getting in.
- Eileen said this is the first she’s heard of these issues.
- Asked why Council won’t pay for her brother Christian’s education to complete high school.
- Eileen said the problem was that ultimately the matter was up to Christian’s Mom and that she didn’t get in touch soon enough to meet funding deadlines. Eileen said that she has spoken to Indian Affairs and that everything is taken care of for Christian to get funding next year. He can go to school in the fall of 2018 with his room and board, gym clothes and four trips during the year.
- Ron? At 3:41’31 says that his daughter (Katherine?) had to take a loan to pay for her own cost of Post secondary education because she couldn’t get letters of support from the band.
- Eileen said she wasn’t aware of this situation.
- Johnny brought up the issue of the sign at the entrance to the community which reads “no trespassing.” John asks why it can’t be changed to something more welcoming like “Welcome to the Ojibway Nation of Saugeen #258.” Eileen said that she put up the sign 20 years ago as a deterrent to theft of materials from the community.
- Melony “I think everyone should come together and be mature instead of bashing each other. We don’t want to pass this division on down our family divide. Eileen agrees that the next generation needs to overcome the divisions between family members. What’s said on Facebook about us “stealing” hurts because it’s not true. I had to take a loan and work hard to pay for my new truck.
- There was a discussion about settlement payouts in other communities. Doug and Eileen explained that Saugeen had no settlements and thus no payments.
- Summer “Money should go to fixing houses. We should fix everybody’s house”.
- Ron raised the question of by-laws on the reserve. Darrel Keesic says that he enforces the laws as a police officer. Doug Keshen says that there’s no point of having laws if they are not enforceable. So the by-laws on dry reserves get broken and just encourages cops to get involved and put people in the criminal justice system.
- Eileen asked who wants to become a police officer. Desiree spoke up and said that she wants to be a police officer. Derrell says that Desiree must come and work with him and learn from him if that’s the case. He wants someone local to replace him and they should learn from him as he will be difficult to replace.
- A discussion was had about the delay in completing the new community centre and the efforts made to finance it. Eileen explained that the plan was that it was going to go up in 8 months but it got delayed by a lack of funds being released.
- Johnny speaks about problems with carbon monoxide problems and how a contractor that he met with provided him with a list of the “digital instruments” that could be used by the band to monitor the safety of its members. John said he gave the information to Chief and Council but nothing was done about it.
- Glen, passes
- Theresa fromCat lake, likes it in Saugeen because there’s not much drugs and alcohol and the kids like it. My son is twelve and very outspoken. Only issue is the water. My son breaks out with a skin condition from the water.
- Eileen says the water problem is community wide and that they want to put a community wide water treatment plant.
- Desiree “Our community needs healing on the reserve and in the community. We need more community gatherings”. I met cousins here that I didn’t even no we had. Once there’s a community centre what’s going to happen with the old buildings that used to house police and band council. Eileen replied that the building would be turned into housing. Kids need more to do, and more attention should be paid to involving them. We have to heal as a community, as a family because we’re all family. Could have traditional gatherings and feed ourselves with hunting and fishing.
- Johnny said that the last time that he remembers there being a community gathering was before his mom died in the old store. Now when we come to a meeting we fight, this was like a festival and a feast with no bickering. That’s what we’ve got to do.
- Darrell speaks about his passion for policing. He’s happy but he can see room for lots of improvement. It’s an evolving process.
- Johnny raises the issue again of his contractor who said his insurance would pay for it. Eileen said that she would look into the matter and John provided the phone number of the contractor.
- Mary expresses my door almost fell on my head. In the winter we have to cover it with towels and blankets cause the wind just comes right in. It’s so hard to heat up. We need it fixed.
- Eileen We need to fix everyone’s house. It’s time for renovations. We started with the empty houses because it’s easier to work when there’s no one there. Our goal is to go to everyone’s house and see what they need and fix it. If you’ve got immediate problems then you have to come to the band office or leave me a voicemail. There’s a miscommunication problem.
- Chief Edward Machimity says it’s best to finish one house at a time and get the job done.
- Theresa Cat lake, says we should get a housing and health inspector
- Tom talks about a recent conversation he had with Mike Holmes about having him come on a goodwill visit to see the reserve and Savant Lake. There was general agreement that this would be a good idea if it could be pulled off.
- The meeting concluded with Darlene passing over the notes that she took of the meeting on the flip chart paper. Doug Keshen said that he will provide a summary of the minutes taken by his daughter. Darlene said that she would produce minutes as well, and passed over the flip chart minutes to Eileen.
- Eileen thanks everyone for inviting them and for having such a productive and open meeting. Has a good feeling about moving forward. Let’s work together.
7. Meeting concludes with a prayer from the Chief.