One of the people looking to be the next leader of the Montreal Lake Cree Nation is talking about his platform.
Conrad Bird is running against Edward Henderson and incumbent chief Joyce Mcleod for the chief’s office.
Bird told MBC Radio News he is running because he believes Montreal Lake is in a nation building stage and for him a large part of that involves providing more support for younger people along with the nation’s Elders.
“We have Elders that need to come home, we have children that need to come home,” he said.
When it comes to helping the nation’s Elders, Bird said more needs to be done to help them stay in the community. He explained many of them have to leave the community because there are not appropriate facilities for them to be housed in. Bird said this leads to many Elders passing away in part because they are lonely and separated from their families.
“We want to make sure that we change that,” he said.
Housing is another issue which Bird feels needs to be dealt with. He added different ways of housing people need to be looked at to help deal with the issue. Bird said in order to put in place some positive changes to deal with a range of issues the nation may have to look at trying to find new sources for additional revenues.
Currently Bird is working for the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation as their finance director. He has previously worked for Montreal Lake Cree Nation as their band manager, where he worked with an administrative team which helped the First Nation balance its budget using a debt reduction planned that he submitted.
“I can’t claim that success myself, I had a lot of people behind the scenes, advisors, guidance, people that actually, they came in and utilizing their experience and their expertise and that’s basically what I want to continue doing,” said Bird.
Bird has as well held elected office at Montreal Lake serving on council from 1997 until 1999. Overall Bird said he believes it is important that the First Nation seek out and work to retain qualified professional people with the proper knowledge to run the band’s operations.
“My grandfather used to always say, ‘I didn’t elect you to run an office, I didn’t elect you to micromanage, we elect you to find money and to bring new different ideas to the community and to help the nation, build the nation,'” he said.
Election day for Montreal Lake is March 31.