Madate letter for Chief Advisor Richard Bélanger
Qey Mr. Richard Bélanger,
I am pleased to have you as members of the Grand Council of the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation and to assign to you the political responsibilities of governance, treasury, and finance. I also designate you to assist and replace me in liaising with the General Directorate and for any meetings, representation, and responsibilities for which I may not be able to fulfill. These responsibilities are of the utmost importance and must always be exercised in the best interests of the First Nation.
The beginning of the mandate is a defining moment for WWFN and will be marked by continuity in change. Already in 2016, the members of our First Nation were sending a clear signal. They wanted WWFN to move into second gear in order to develop to its full potential. WWFN needed to regain its leadership with respect to Wolastokuk and its members. To achieve this goal, the following steps were taken:
- We have improved our ability to manage and govern ourselves as a nation. The separation of administrative and political roles was instituted and a team of competent and honest managers was put in place. The results have been conclusive. Not only have significant revenues been generated, but they have also been administered effectively in anticipation of structuring projects for WWFN and its members.
- Important relationships have been consolidated and renewed. First of all, with our members, whom we have involved in committees and who have contributed in various ways to important issues. Historic alliances have also been renewed with our brothers and sisters from other First Nations, including the Wolastoqey Nation. Finally, we have resumed negotiations with the governments of Canada and Quebec to continue our struggle towards reparation and recognition of our rights while establishing partnerships.
The members have given us a clear mandate. They agree with these directions and want us to continue them. Over the next few years, WWFN will have to consolidate its governance and build structuring projects for the nation and its members.
As Chief Advisor with responsibility for land and culture, you will be responsible for the protection of our territory, the Wolastokuk, and the Wolastoqey culture. The Wolastokuk has shaped our way of life and culture. Steps must be taken to protect and promote the Wolastokuk, its traditional activities and Wolastoqey culture. For example, hunting, fishing and trapping are activities that are valued by our members. It is essential that the First Nation protect its traditional activities by updating its codes of practice and requires their respect and recognition. Furthermore, measures to protect and transmit the Wolastoqey culture must also be put forward. In particular, I invite you to participate actively in the Wolastoqey Cultural Centre project. Finally, the protection of the Wolastokuk, our activities and our culture also involves the various consultations and accommodation processes that have been put in place. Continually confronted with the cohabitation and development of projects that have an impact on natural resources, you will have to seek and establish consultation processes that adequately meet our protection needs and, if necessary, the required accommodation measures. These major responsibilities are yours.
The Grand Council relies on your work, ideas, and recommendations to guide its decisions in the areas of your responsibilities. The challenges ahead are great, but you are not alone. All members of the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation, including our ancestors and future generations, can guide you. Do not hesitate to inform, consult and listen to them. The involvement of our members represents an important transparency tool that also promotes the objectives of belonging and reappropriation. Also, collaborate and work in complementarity with the WWFN’s management and directors. Clearly determine your respective roles and responsibilities. Share information in both directions in order to benefit from their knowledge while allowing them to know and implement the Grand Council’s orientations and decisions. Finally, cultivate your relationships with organizations and individuals outside of WWFN while protecting and affirming our rights.
Land and culture are sensitive issues for WWFN and its members. You will need to consult and work closely with the various committees already in place—the Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Committee and the Cultural Committee. If necessary, additional committees or methods of consultation will need to be put in place. You will also have to work closely with the Natural Resources Directorate, which is in charge of applying the Grand Council’s orientations in this area. It would also be useful for you to sit on the Consultation Committee that exists between this directorate and the negotiating team. In your role as guardian of Wolastokuk and Wolastoqey culture, you will have to bring any issues on this subject to the Grand Council.
In closing, I ask you to take steps to ensure the sustainability of the work you will do during your mandate. The fruit of your work does not belong to you and must remain with the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation. You must therefore take the necessary measures to ensure that your actions and initiatives are accessible and can benefit your successors and future generations.
Jacques Tremblay, Grand Chief
Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation