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Candidates for Chief of Peguis First Nation gear up for election

Juliet Kadzviti/The Interlake Spectator

Peguis First Nation’s election for chief and councillors will take place March 24. The Interlake Spectator asked some of the candidates a few questions in the run-up to voting day.

Albert Sutherland, born and raised in the community, is a nominee for chief.

Interlake Spectator:  What would make you the ideal candidate for chief?
Albert Sutherland:  I believe that I have a solid plan to address major issues that affect Peguis First Nation like reducing our Band debt, lobbying our Federal government to address our shortage of homes, supporting local Chamber of Commerce in creating employment, improving our local economy, strengthening our local government with a solid governance plan, along with the people of Peguis,  and forming internal and external partnerships both on and off our First Nation with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities. 
I entered this as an alternative choice for chief. I believe my experiences as a former Band Council member for six years will greatly assist me, if I am successful in my run for chief, as well as my strong family ethics and beliefs and the love of my community of Peguis, which will benefit all band members who live on and off our community.
IS: What would you like people to know about you?
AS: I have strong family values. I have been married 43 years to my wife Arlene and have been sober 36 years. I am a founder of the Peguis Chamber of Commerce, I  spent seven years as CEO of 14 First Nation Partnerships, I am self-employed, have worked in construction and logging, and I am the guardian of my grandson, Cowen.

IS: What are the major issues in the community?
AS: We have a huge Band deficit, financial misuse of Band funds, reduced high wages and high travel for chief and council, high poverty rates, high unemployment, lack of housing, over-crowding at homes, major flooding of our community and social issues, i.e. illegal drug abuse, alcohol abuse, lack of regular Band meetings, lack of an effective communication strategy, and the need for empowering all of our people.

Glenn Hudson is another nominee for chief. He was once chief of the First Nation.

Interlake Spectator:  What would make you the ideal candidate for chief?
Glenn Hudson: During my time as chief of Peguis First Nation, I focused on strengthening our economy by reducing the deficit and building our own source revenues. Some of the major economic development initiatives started during my time as Chief included launching Chief Peguis Investment Corporation, creating an economic development zone at 1075 Portage Ave in Winnipeg, negotiating a multi-million dollar land deal at Assiniboia Downs, starting Chief Peguis Construction, initiating the claim of Kapyong Barracks, and establishing one of the largest geothermal energy programs in all of western Canada.
 These economic development initiatives created hundreds of jobs and the revenues generated by these mega economic development projects were to be reinvested back into our Band membership to improve housing, recreation, Elders Care, healthcare, youth programming and education for Peguis Band Membership. 
Unfortunately, since the last election these economic development projects have been placed into jeopardy, cheques are bouncing and were put back in co-management after only two years under the new leadership.  I am ready to return into office to get our economy back on track so we can realize a vision for all.
IS: What would you like people to know about you?

GH: I was born and raised in Peguis First Nation by my mother Joan and father Alex. I have been married for 25 years to my wife Sharon, whom I love very much.  I have two children, Glenn Jr. and Juanita and the proud grandfather to Meena, Emma, and Jameson.  I graduated  from the University of Manitoba in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Engineering. That is one of the reasons why I  focused on improving educational opportunities for Band membership during my time as chief. I understand that in order for children to be successful, they require a high-quality education and a  strong sense of identity and culture. That is why when I was chief, I made sure the school was always properly financed and resourced. As a post secondary graduate, I  understand the opportunities that come from receiving an education.
I am disheartened to know that over the last two years our educators can no longer get their pay directly deposited because of consistent issues with the Band bouncing cheques.  This is one of the reason why our band was out back into co-management in January 2017. We must not place our children future in jeopardy because of gross mismanagement of funds.
Although I have many opportunities outside of Peguis, with the encouragement of our Elders, I want to return home and commit my life to Peguis First Nation. My heart and commitment rests with Peguis Band Membership.  I want to use my leadership and business skills to build a vision for all in Peguis First Nation. 
This means having sound financial management and building a strong economy to ensure  Peguis has resources to reinvest back into Band Membership to achieve their goals and aspirations. That is why I am committing myself to work for the people of Peguis.  I want to realize a vision for all.

IS: What are the major issues in the community?
GH: In January 2017, we were placed back into co-management after only two years under the current leadership. We were on the road to greatness before last election.  The economic potential from our investments were in the millions, we were winning business awards, and we were becoming a model for other First Nations wanting to move forward.
After only two years under the current leadership, these investments have been placed in jeopardy, cheques are bouncing, and we are back in co-management. We are on the road to third party management, where we will see all our money going out the door and increasing rates of poverty. 
That is not the future I want to see for Peguis.  That will not provide us with the resources to build a vision for all. When elected I will work diligently to rebuild of economy, reinstate governance structures that support sound financial management.
 There is no reason why for the first time in history Peguis should be bouncing cheques!  This is no way to build a vision for all.

The Interlake Spectator was unable to reach current chief Cindy Spence, before press time.

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