FSIN Chief’s Agenda To Focus On Bridge-Building

Monday, November 02, 2009 at 12:37



The new chief of the FSIN wants to appeal to all people in the province to work together.


Chief Guy Lonechild met with reporters this morning to outline his plans for the first 200 days on the job.


Lonechild says treaty implementation will be the focus.

At the same time, he says there will be more respectful relationships than there have been in the past.


“The mandate that was given to us is to start building bridges, and that’s significantly different. Gone are the days of pointing the finger and the blame. The need here is to start building that understanding of the true spirit and intent of our treaties. We know that treaties have not been implemented to the full extent required to First Nations people in this province,” he says.


Lonechild touched on many issues — for example, he wants to meet with officials at the First Nations University of Canada ,as well as the students’ association, to look at separating education and politics.


He also hopes to meet with Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl next week to discuss the McIvor case and citizenship implications.


Lonechild says at the next assembly, which will likely be in February, he wants to talk to the chiefs about electing a woman chief as Saskatchewan’s regional chief to the Assemby of First Nations, which is an issue he campaigned on.


Meanwhile, the outgoing FSIN chief says he’s enjoying relaxing and not having to be anywhere.


Lawrence Joseph says he is taking a bit of a break from politics, but doesn’t plan to retire any time soon.


He says since losing the election last week, he has been approached by people suggesting he run for provincial or federal politics, or even for national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.


Joseph thinks the new chief, Guy Lonechild, will do a good job if he doesn’t forget First Nations spirituality,

and if he isn’t always too friendly with other governments, because he says governments aren’t necessarily there to just address the needs of First Nations people, but rather to focus on the needs of an entire province or country.


“We’ve got a lot of work to do, and I think Chief Lonechild — if he has the right people around him, with the right attitudes and with the right purpose — he’s going to be one of our greatest young leaders that we ever produced in Saskatchewan,” he says.


Joseph says an accomplishment he’s proud of from his term as chief is getting the FSIN out of near bankruptcy, and out of INAC’s remedial management plan.


He says he ran again because he wanted to finish work on citizenship, which he sees as a major issue facing First Nations people right now.