OHSWEKEN – The last time William K. (Bill) Montour ran for Elected Chief, he lost to sitting Chief Ava Hill by two votes, but rather than call for a recount or call into question the system, he accepted the outcome without challenge.
“It was fair and square and with an electronic ballot count, I couldn’t see any sense in calling for a recount or anything,” he clearly recalls.
It is fair to point out that last election there were two very similar names on the ballot for elected Chief, himself and Bill Monture, which could easily have confused more than two voters. But he has never made that an excuse, and looking back, actually believes it worked out the way it was supposed to.
“To tell you the truth, back then I was feeling pretty tired,” he recalls. “I didn’t know it at the time, but I was carrying a time bomb around with my heart.”
After leaving office he suffered a very serious heart attack that could easily have taken him. Fortunately, he was not feeling right one day and his wife drove him to be looked at the hospital. There, they told him he was having a heart attack. Doctors treated him immediately preventing any more serious damage to the heart. After multiple bypass surgery and several months of rest, he began feeling stronger and his energy started coming back.
Now, he says he feels better than he has for years with new knees he has recently received, and a new lease on life, and he feels he is ready to get back at it.
“I think there is a lot of things I can still do for the community and one of them is the water lines we have to get put in throughout the community and that’s about a $190 million project,” he says. “I see that being done in a phased process.”
He has a realistic expectation on how to make that happen.
“I don’t really anticipate Indian Affairs coming over the hill with a bag of money,” he says, “so we have to start look more at own-source revenues or fee free project management. There are numerous things we can look at.”
While recuperating, he used his time wisely by looking into self-funding ventures.
“I have been researching for the last year and a half now,” says Montour. “I have contacts with a number of some major financial institutions and they are willing to come here to do this. Of course they are going to want return on their investment, but I think that would be a good business deal. You can’t expect the government to provide all of that funding.”
He is worried about the slow movement on education for Six Nations. He recalls recently hearing and interview with three young Six Nations actors who have appeared on Urban Girls on APTN.
“In that interview, they were saying how disappointed they are in the Six Nations educational system,” says Montour. “Not blaming the teachers, but the system itself. I would like to see us get more involved in that and create our own education system.”
He points back to when the Confederacy ran Six Nations education system itself with its own schools and I think we can do that again if the government will not offer equality in their funding.
“There is a small community up around Timmons for example, same size, same number of students, and they get $140 million, a far cry from the $11 million or so we get for this community, which was the last count I got,” he says. “That’s got to be rectified.”
He also wants to challenge the province more after the Grassy Narrows judgment determined that treaties made with Canada, in the case of Treaty #3, were actually made with the Crown and therefor the Crown is in fact responsible for certain treaty obligations.
He also wants to challenge the taxes that are paid into the Canadian government from Six Nations, an estimated worth of more than two hundred million or so, and that Six Nations deserves its fair share of returns on that.
“Trudeau opened the door a crack by saying he wants a new relationship, and let in a breath of fresh air from the Harper government, but now it’s up to us to push that door open, walk through it with solutions that we have and nobody else,” says Montour.
He looks to a new day for Six Nation, especially with the Confederacy now being recognized and receiving its own source revenues. This is also a divide he promises to do his best to heal.