SIX NATIONS – Cynthia Jamieson has stepped up to the plate and is running for the Six Nations administration’s top job as Chief Administrator of the 57th Six Nations Council. She is Mohawk, Turtle Clan who grew up within the community and has held a number of administrative duties throughout the years with the Elected Council.
Her relative experience is long and impressive starting in 1991, including work as a Native Studies teacher and academic Councillor at Saunders Secondary School in London, Ont.; time as and investigating officer for the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission; Co-ordinator of Ontario Indian Social Services; Policy Analyst for the Chiefs of Ontario; Director of Six Nations Health Services and was instrumental in the creation of separate Health and Social Developments, Six Nations Director of Operations, instituting management systems and policies and is currently executive director of the Mississaugas of the New Credit.
It is her second shot at the Chief’s office, having tried in 2001, but since then had added a lot more tools to her toolbox and believes she can serve her community with her vast experience.
“I’ve always wanted to be back involved,” says Jamieson. “But with small children, the timing wasn’t right.” Now she believes it’s the right time to serve Six Nations.
She says listing the issues facing Six Nations are so broad, numerous and obvious that she chooses not to list them.
“Schools, water, bridges, all those things — but framing how I feel, is very important,” she says. “We have to prioritize and have plans to address these things.
“We have to decide what the most important things are, and the first priority is the people and the clear understanding that we take direction from the people and plan how to address these issues over the next three years.”
Jamieson said, “As leader of the council, I would endeavour with that council that we have a lot of work to do here and we have only a short time to do it. Therefore, we all need to be mindful of that and priorities. We only have so much time and resources to work with.”
She believes that every decision made by council should be filtered through the question, “how is this going to benefit Six Nations Territory?”.
“I’m not saying meetings outside are not necessary, they are,” Jamieson qualifies, “but we have to focus on what priorities we have here first.”
Infrastructure, services and relationships are the top three planks on her platform of priorities.
“But I think the top priority right now is the waste situation at the landfill,” she says. “We are all suffering because of that and I’m not sure there is a plan for that but there needs to be one. This should have been addressed 10 years ago.”
That brings in her stance on the environment, not only here, but globally.
Regarding how Six Nations’ relationship with the federal and provincial governments is concerned, the time is right for positive change.
“As they say, hit while the iron is hot,” Jamieson says. “Given the Liberal climate, or at least what they espouse, it’s never been as right as it is now. I would trust that our lands and resources department would be the squeaky wheel that gets the grease and not take no for an answer.”
Regarding own-source resources, Jamieson believes the course set by the present council regarding being mindful of recent federal policy regarding claw-backs is adhered to.
“It’s none of their business what we do with our own funding,” says Jamieson. “We create it, we give an accounting of what we did with it, but we must watch for and protect ourselves against claw-backs.”
She is concerned about accountability in regards to the agreements signed by Business Development Corporation.
“That, to me, is an issue,” she says.
She says that although there has been significant revenues come through the Samsung deal that helped with new fire equipment and fire hall, these moneys are divested in the Corporation and the people have little say in how it is spent. She would like to see that become more public.
Regarding the tensions between the elected and the confederacy councils, Jamieson is a concerned about how that is impacting the whole of the community.
“We need to focus on our commonality more than our differences,” she says.
She would like to institute a more intimate way of getting input from the people by conducting small, clan or family meetings and district meeting more often.
She believes people feel intimated when five or six people end up dominating the discussions at larger community meetings.
“Its not like the others have no opinions,” she says. “They just don’t want to have their opinions jumped on by others.”
According to Jamieson, it is a plan that was used quite successfully in the early 1990s but has fallen off since and she would like to reinstitute a part of that plan if elected.
“All voices are important,” she says. “We have to keep extending our hand to the Confederacy and not give up trying.”