Technology

Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod looks forward to better days ahead in 2021

The chief of the Nipissing First Nation said he has high hopes, for his territory and the people he represents, for 2021.

Chief Scott McLeod said that like everyone else he wants to see the global COVID-19 pandemic come under control in the new year. And he is also looking forward to seeing how the Liberal government might roll out the measures contained in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The federal government introduced a bill in early December that would see Indigenous people across the country receive more power and self-determination, particularly when it comes to control of their land and water. McLeod said it was a hot topic at the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Annual General Assembly which was held virtually in December.

“Originally I took this as a step in the right direction, however I think it’s going to take a bit of time to really unpack a lot of what’s in that legislation and see what the overall impacts to First Nations sovereignty and rights are by this whole domestication of the UNDRIP recommendations,” the chief said. “It was a lengthy debate at the Assembly of First Nations meetings about whether or not First Nations were supporting this, or rejecting it or abstaining from it. It was a bit of a deadlock.”

McLeod said the Liberals came out with the proposed legislation without a real work plan attached to it. He said that has made it difficult to envision exactly how the UNDRIP legislation will be rolled out and what it might look like when, and if, it is implemented. That has left a lot of First Nations leaders on the fence as to whether UNDRIP is even a good thing or a step back, McLeod said. He compared it to Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution in which Canada recognizes aboriginal and treaty rights but doesn’t lay out clearly what those rights are. McLeod said there was no vote among chiefs on whether to support the legislation, but he expects one will be held early in 2021.

McLeod said he is also looking forward to the election of a new national chief of the Assembly of First Nations in July of 2021. Current National Chief Perry Bellegarde said he would not be seeking another term. McLeod said he was not surprised that Bellegarde is stepping down, noting that he accomplished a lot but that it can be a very unrewarding job trying to represent the best interests of some 634 chiefs across Canada. He added that he has no plans to run for national chief himself right now but he did not close the door to changing his mind. His priority he said was giving strong leadership to the people of Nipissing First Nation.

The chief said he expects his people to continue to follow the COVID protocols into the new year as they have all along. That has helped keep the territory coronavirus-free since the pandemic began.

“So far, so good, Everyone is co-operating, But just like everyone else we’re getting pandemic fatigue but we’ve got to push through. There are better times at the end of this and that’s what we are striving for,” McLeod said.

John McFadden is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Indigenous issues for MuskokaRegion.com, ParrySound.com and Simcoe.com. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.



Credit Link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

code

Back to top button