Dawn-Marie Kelly & Lisa McDonald new Alderville Band Council members
Article & images by Valerie MacDonald
The new Band Council in Alderville First Nation — elected July – inaugurated July 20 — has two new members with one of the previous council’s members now Alderville’s new Band Chief.
The inaugural session was held last Thursday, says newly elected Chief Taynar Simpson who won a three-way race against former Chief Dave Mowat and first-time contestant for the position, Dave Baker with a very slim majority reported as 3 votes.
Simpson is elected for a two-year term, but says he’ll stay on as long as his community wants him.
Alderville elections are not set in stone. If there is a desire to change time limits, there is the legal opportunity to change the election mechanism, if the community desires it.
Simpson will serve with two returning councillors, Nora Sawyer and Jason Marsden, and two newcomers Dawn-Marie Kelly and Lisa McDonald who he described as “long term (First Nations) employees.”
When asked why he thought he won the top job on the Alderville band council, Simpson said he felt his ideas “resonated with the community.”
Some of those ideas have come from his record of achievement and experience with the company he founded, Wampum Records, headquartered in Alderville. The company is described as “Canada’s premier Aboriginal issues research and consulting firm.”
Simpson said his company’s work on residential schools was part of “Reconciliation” research produced for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.
Other company projects have assisted residential school survivors with their settlements including those from the ’60s Scoop” when child welfare authorities took children from Indigenous families and adopted them out. A continuing program that ran from the ’50s into the early ’80s. Many survivors are now living in Alderville, he said.
The new Chief has some ideas about developing the Alderville’s tourism potential in cooperation with the community and council. Alderville ecotourism could provide employment opportunities and be an investment that the First Nations community could take “pride in” he said.
Alderville is well known for the many cannabis outlets that line County Road 45. But the community doesn’t see much benefit from those commercial operations except for employment according to Simpson.
He suggests, with the support of the community and Band Council, a cannabis “supply facility” could be built that would produce an Indigenous product in accordance with current standards.
Of about 1,350 people who make up Alderville First Nation, “the majority” live off reserve in areas like Toronto. Because the Williams Treaty settlement and the 11,000 acres of treaty property the band oversees, Alderville can buy and develop land anywhere in the large Central Ontario-plus catchment area of the Treaty, including the GTA. Any investments in residential and business projects would potentially benefit Alderville.
The creation of an “urban reserve” would not be subject to provincial or federal taxation, Simpson said.
Other possibilities lie before Alderville. Land bought in Peterborough could be developed not only for First Nation homes but for college or university students.
All of these ideas must be brought before the community and the Band Council to “see what they want to do” because communication is “key to guiding our path forward,” the new Chief said.
Simpson also said he believes Alderville First Nation “can be partners with other businesses and communities” and wants to talk to others about opportunities.
“I want to hear (others) ideas and see what we can do.”