Grand chief elected by one vote
Grand Chief Harvey Yesno’s one-vote election win over former deputy grand chief Terry Waboose to lead Nishnawbe Aski Nation gets an honourable mention as Wawatay’s news story of the year.
Yesno received 22 votes on the third ballot of the election, which was held during the Keewaywin Conference in Kashechewan, while Waboose received 21. Mike Metatawabin was eliminated on the second ballot, after receiving 12 votes compared to Yesno’s 16 votes and Waboose’s 15 votes. Brian Davey, Lawrence Martin, Doug Semple and David Neegan were eliminated after the first ballot.
“We need to be united,” Yesno said in his victory speech, stressing the importance of unity among the communities and chiefs. “There’s no way to do it otherwise. We need all of you to stand together, so that our children will have something to look forward to in the future.”
Yesno replaced former grand chief Stan Beardy, who stepped down in June after being elected Regional Chief of Ontario.
Yesno had previously served as the Ontario government’s director for Aboriginal and Community relations for the Ring of Fire, executive director of the Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund and chief of Eabametoong First Nation for five terms. He was also involved with Grand Council Treaty No. 9, which later became NAN, in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Yesno told the chiefs gathered in Kashechewan that the birth of Nishnawbe Aski Nation is still in its early stages.
“I think it is important that all of us express new ideas and new horizons to reach for,” Yesno said. “We need to get our people more involved in the process.”
Yesno also addressed the need to get youth educated and involved in the process of governance. “We need to keep offering hope in the future, positive things that will inspire our young people to stay alive,” Yesno said.
Deputy Grand Chief Les Louttit of Fort Albany was reelected with 24 votes during the deputy grand chief election, while former deputy grand chiefs Alvin Fiddler of Muskrat Dam and Goyce Kakegamic of Keewaywin were elected to new terms with 39 and 34 votes.
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