SNEC annual assembly hypes up the term, but no audit

GIS shows maps of Six Nations. (Photo by Lisa Iesse)

By Lynda Powless & Lisa Iesse, Writers
Six Nations Elected Council’s (SNEC) first Annual General Assembly (AGA), of its four year term, may have delivered a dazzling drone show, but it was missing an audit.
Six Nations is now eight months into 2023 and the 2022-2023 audit hasn’t been presented.
Elected Chief Mark Hill said it would be another two to three weeks before the 2022 audit is finished.
At the same time Six Nations learned the man behind the massive re-organization of SNEC’s administration is leaving this week on a year’s leave of absence

Six Nations CEO Darrin Jamieson  is leaving

Six Nations CEO Darrin Jamieson is leaving

Darren Jamieson, who went from SAO to CEO is the key figure behind the overhaul of the entire band administration and council itself.
The almost four year project saw band council itself going from a committee structure to a portfolio structure with the entire council now attending committee meetings.
Prior to the switch councillors took on chairmanship of committees and councillors were appointed to committees.
Now all councillors attend all meetings and the elected chief sits as chair.
After launching the massive change of both administration and the band council, CEO Darren Jamieson confirmed he is taking a leave.
However, he added, if during that leave, Six Nations needs help with the reorganization, he is available and could work on a contract basis.
Elected Chief Hill said SNEC needed to understand its role is in governance not in administration and a community that has undergone “quick and exceptional growth.”

People gathered in the entrance while the Six Nations Election Code Committee tried to hold a vote on changes to the election code. (Photos by Lisa Iesse)

People gathered in the entrance while the Six Nations Election Code Committee tried to hold a vote on changes to the election code. (Photos by Lisa Iesse)

He said SNEC needs to be politicking, lobbying the federal or provincial governments for Six Nations’ needs.
“We need to be in Ottawa or Toronto,” he said. Instead he said SNEC was caught up in a duplication of meetings and services.
“We have our own bureaucracy right here. We are trying to streamline it,” he said.
Jamieson said while it may be Six Nations culture to meet around the table and talk, at SNEC’s level “we need to do a better job.”
In the meantime Six Nations has become a major employer with over 900 people now working for the band, the majority of those, Elected Chief Hill said, hired in the past four years.
He said he now wants to look to development and that could include the development of the Oneida Business Park when construction of the waterline down Highway Six from Lake Erie to Caledonia begin. The project has been in the making for over 20 years.
Once the water line is extended its hoped to open up development at Oneida Business Park, and open up construction of about 800 homes.
Elected Chief Hill joked it could also open up construction of a hotel or casino.
Elected Chief Hill said he is not happy with Ontario Lottery Gaming (OLG) agreement with First Nations.
OLG signed an agreement in 2008 with the Ontario First Nations Limited Partnership (OFNLP) which required OLG to give First Nations 1.7 per cent of annual gross gaming revenues. That included revenue from lotteries, slot machines and table games. It also included non-gaming revenues.
Elected Chief Hill says he sees the agreement is limiting how much revenue Six Nations can produce.
“We are in a prime development area for gaming in Ontario and they only give us from $8 million to $14 million depending on the year.”
He said its “a cap.”

Anishinaabe artist Keith Secola who performed for a crowd of about 100 people at the community centre

Anishinaabe artist Keith Secola who performed for a crowd of about 100 people at the community centre

“They are capping us. Its helped us to where we are today, but what does it look like if we could potentially make $40 million but here we are getting capped at 8, 10, 12, that’s bullshit! We are on a key highway. We have everything here, supplies, businesses, entertainment.”
While Elected Chief Hill would not confirm if he is going to run again in this year’s band elections in November he said he is “at a crossroad, and I am weighing it.”
He likened his four years at the helm of the most populated First Nation in Canada to a roller coaster ride.
“It’s like a roller coaster. You’re up, and then down. At this point in time it’s nice to see the work we’ve done, over the past two to three years, to see it coming to fruition.”
He said councils “have to put in the work, planning and pieces for administration to see it through”
He said he was excited to see the progress and “I definitely want to keep going to see progress.”
Jamieson said some may see the over 900 employees as too many. But he said the band has to undertake services even municipalities don’t administer.
“Some people say maybe we have too many, but if you look at (the big picture). We have to provide all the health services (cities) they don’t and we don’t have a proper transit system,” added Jamieson. “Continuity and succession” was a big theme for this council, said Jamieson.
Jamieson said in the past four years the band has been working on planning.
“What do you do when you are in a pandemic?
You plan,” Jamieson said.
The first four year term of a Six Nations band council saw a pandemic over two years, a switch to ZOOM council and committee sessions that continues today and the launching of the Survivor led investigation of the former Mohawk Institute among other items.
The AGA included a dinner and entertainment with Six Nations’ own Jace Martin and Anishinaabe artist Keith Secola who performed for a crowd of about 100 people at the community centre.
Every SNEC department was on hand to show the community what th have been working on.
Ken Sandy led a popular storyboard presentation which looked backward and forward in time using multilayered Geographic Information System (GIS) maps of Six Nations.
After visiting departments
and participating in social dancing, a drone show took place to promote the coming Walk the Tract event.
Band Councillors had their own ideas about next steps.
And Councillor Sherri Lyn Hill was mum about rumours she may run for elected chief.
Councillor Michelle Bomberry said “We need to generate our own funds so we can have sovereignty over what we need and want to do. We know what’s best for our community.”
Councillor Audrey Powless Bomberry said “Education “and the water is very important, because we have seniors buying water. Community unity and communication are also key, she said. For Councilor Helen Miller housing is key.
“My feeling is our housing program needs to be revamped,” in a way that helps everyone in the community, said Councillor Helen Miller.
For community members the ideas were just as diverse.
More language programs,” said a community member. “Not just putting up signs. People can’t read them if they don’t know what they say. And teach the language more,” she said.
Tim Henry told Turtle Island News he also sees housing as the most important priority. “There is not enough to go around for everybody.
There is a big waiting list, and a lot of families out there don’t have enough food.”
“I was impressed with their handling of Covid. I mean a new chief to walk into that,” said another community member. “But I don’t know whether I would elect him for a second term.”
“Roads, instead of filling the pothole, actually pave the road over,” said one Six Nations woman.
“Look at all the services we need, we need water and pipes throughout the whole reserve. We need wastewater services. We of course need more land to build more houses,” said Land and Resources Director Lonny Bomberry. A justice system for Six Nations and a drug treatment centre are also critical, he added.

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