Meet the candidate for Mushkegowuk Council Grand Chief: Andrew Solomon 

By Dariya Baiguzhiyeva

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Andrew Solomon understands what it’s like to be in a leadership role.

Andrew Solomon
(Supplied photo)

He’s a former Nishnawbe Aski Police Service officer and he served five terms as a Fort Albany First Nation chief. He’s also one of four candidates vying to be the next Mushkegowuk Council grand chief. The byelection is Feb. 25.

He has worked in various positions at the hospitals in Moose Factory and Fort Albany for 15 years. One of his duties included providing translation services for doctors or Elders.

During the campaigning period, Solomon took a leave of absence from his job as a director of education at Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN).

If elected as the grand chief, he would focus on child welfare services, nation-building, resource development, the opioid crisis and on a relationship between Mushkegowuk First Nations, the City of Timmins and the surrounding First Nations.

As a large number of the Mushkegowuk population lives off-reserve, he questions how the city can be engaged and made inclusive to First Nations people.

“That’s really critical. Partnering up with the leadership in Timmins, not just the mayor and councillors, but other organizations. What can we do to assist these organizations to serve better?” Solomon says.

He also mentions a treatment program launched by Dr. Julie Samson and Dr. Louisa Marion-Bellemare and wonders what can be done to help them. Solomon says there should be more support and resources, “a safe house”, where people with addictions could go 24/7.

Solomon says the child welfare system doesn’t take into consideration the parents and how they are treated. In his opinion, it’s time to work with the local First Nation child welfare agencies to develop a program to look at the “root cause why parents are in that state” and try to work with the parents.

“They have to transform their way of thinking not only to look at the safety of the child but reconnecting the child to the family.

We don’t want to relive what happened to us in the residential school system where you strip away the parents’ right to raise the children,” he says.

For Solomon, it’s also time for First Nations to work on their own contemporary laws and it’s important they develop their own worldview.

“We need to develop our own reconciliation plan for us to implement to have better relations going forward,” he says.

To ensure Elders are included in the discussions and the decision-making process, Solomon says he would gather them and ask them what they want to see done. A leader needs to engage with everyone and seek help when one is facing a challenge, he says.

From his experience, Solomon has learned that First Nations people need to know their own history.

“Our own history will tell us a lot of things. How to create opportunities for next generations up ahead. We need to learn from what has happened not to make the same mistakes,” he says. “When you’re done your leadership, make sure these problems are still not here. We have to look at the history for us to plan better as we forge ahead.”

For more details on Solomon, connect with him on Facebook.

The other candidates vying to be grand chief are Ernest Beck, Alison Linklater and Mike Metatawabin.

Dariya Baiguzhiyeva is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the TIMMINSTODAY.COM. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada




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