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Keewaywin Conference set for Mount McKay

Friday July 25, 2014

Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s XXXIII Keewaywin Conference is scheduled for Aug. 5-7 at Mount McKay in Fort William First Nation with McDowell Lake the host community.

“We are not attracting a lot of chiefs when we go into, particularly, a remote community,” said Grand Chief Harvey Yesno. “It’s been a pattern a couple of times since we’ve had Keewaywin conferences where we haven’t had quorum. The last one was 2011 with Nibinamik, so we ended up spending a lot of money to have a meeting but we couldn’t conduct business.”

In addition to NAN, Yesno said a number of organizations present their annual reports during the Keewaywin Conference, including Nishnawbe Aski Police Service, Nishnawbe-Aski Legal Services Corporation, Oshki-Pimache-O-Win Education and Training Institute and Ka-Na-Chi-Hih Specialized Solvent Abuse Treatment Centre.

“There are several organizations that have to present to NAN Chiefs in Assembly,” Yesno said. “So we need the quorum of chiefs to do that.”

Yesno said McDowell Lake was provided with an opportunity to host the Keewaywin Conference by holding it at Mount McKay, noting that the community can only be reached by float plane during the summer.

“Some of these communities will probably never get a chance for a long time to host the (Keewaywin Conference),” Yesno said. “Primarily the accommodations are the biggest challenge in the communities, so this year McDowell Lake First Nation, which is really a small First Nation, they are going to be the official hosts. They are pretty happy that we are able to do that.”

Yesno said a signing protocol between Cancer Care Ontario and NAN has been scheduled for the Keewaywin Conference.

“It’s more of a formal ceremony because the work has already started,” Yesno said. “We want to do this to keep raising the awareness about cancer care.”

Yesno said a number of recent court cases, such as the June 26 Supreme Court of Canada decision on Aboriginal title in British Columbia, will likely be on the agenda.

“We may have some preliminary analysis, probably not in-depth legal analysis because we might not have time, but certainly we’ll have some analysis,” Yesno said. “All the deputy grand chiefs will provide updates on key items.”

As well, Yesno said invitations have been extended to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau to speak at the conference, but they have not been confirmed as of July 4.

“We’re having the annual Keewaywin Awards and banquet on the second day, the 6th, to recognize people from our territory like an Elder and a youth and staff,” Yesno said.

Yesno said a chiefs’ forum for community concerns will be held on the first day of the conference.

The chiefs have been requested to bring their community flags for the grand entry and the NAN Elder’s Council and the NAN Women’s Council have been invited to attend.

Last year’s Keewaywin Conference was held in Kasabonika in mid-August.

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