Four First Nations in the Island Lake area have revealed that they are pulling out of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak organization, a political advocacy group that has 30 member communities in Manitoba’s north.
“We wish to control of our own destiny,” said David McDougall, the chief of St. Theresa Point First Nation.The decision was
revealed by the four neighborhoods Thursday at a health conference being hosted by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs in Winnipeg.The chiefs from the Island Lake area– consisting of the
Wasagamack, St. Theresa Point, Red Sucker Lake and Garden Hill First Nations– say they hope the relocation produces a more powerful governance structure in their neighborhoods.”There are specific things that are taking place that are quite urgent in our region,”stated McDougall.He pointed to the housing needs of St. Theresa Point, saying the First Country has fewer than half of the houses needed for his neighborhood. “Any company that has other priorities or pressing concerns from other regions, we require a more direct approach to tend to our requirements.
“McDougall, who utilized to work for MKO, said the population of the Island Lake area is close to 14,000 people. That would account for about a quarter of
the population of the MKO region.He says provided their size, the 4 Island Lake First Nations weren’t relatively represented in MKO’s subscription.”When you see the numbers and there is 30 people voting from the table, and there’s only four people, it’s out of proportion,”said McDougall.The four reserves in the Island Lake area are in close proximity to each other and initially made up a bigger nation with its own unique language group– the Anishininew, or Oji-Cree, nation.According to McDougall, the Island Lake area began as one federal government as the neighborhoods were gathered to sign Treaty 5.”Now it’s gone down to four administrative units. We still consider ourselves as one, “he said.Autonomy and decision making Discussion about leaving the MKO company has actually been underway for many years now, and was the result of neighborhood assessments with the management of
the 4 communities, the Island Lake chiefs say. “The message is that Island Lake neighborhoods desire to start creating their own autonomy
and governing their own affairs, “said Alex McDougall, chief of Wasagamack First Country.” I think we’re capable of doing that on our own now and not having to count on MKO’s grand chief or other company.
“The communities prepare to pull out of MKO but remain involved with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.The Wasagamack chief stated there is no bad blood in between MKO and the Island Lake First Nations
, but stated that often when they are working out for much better services, they feel they are not heard by the provincial and federal government, and are
referred rather to MKO.”The respect that the Island Lake communities are worthy of
isn’t originating from specific departments in federal government,” he said. “The strategy for the four communities is to establish a nation-to-nation, government-to-government relationship with Canada.” “We appreciate their choices but have and will always attempt to discover methods to assist them when and where we can,
“MKO said in a declaration email to CBC News.”We will also propose a conference to discuss the matter with our MKO executive council of chiefs