OHSWEKEN — Six Nations new Senior Administrative Officer Darrin Jamieson says he has a vision for his new role in the community: to bring good stewardship, unity and peace back into focus.
Jamieson previously worked at Six Nations as a business consultant helping over 150 of Six Nations entrepreneurs set up businesses. The Jamieson family name is well known at Six Nations when it comes to community leadership. His father, mother, siblings, aunts and uncles have all held leadership positions in the community in business, education and governance.
For the last six years Darrin has worked in different First Nations in areas of economic development and governance.
“It was a shift for me but it was a good shift,” said Jamieson, about his move west to work with the Ktunaxa Nation in BC and Tsuut’ina Nation in Alberta. “It was time to get into that kind of a role, a more kind of governance role.”
After assisting those nations develop business ventures and economic development opportunities, Jamieson saw the opportunity to return home to Six Nations to fulfill the role of SAO.
He steps in as the community has faced an onslaught of rising governance issues including land disputes, personal attacks and chaos amidst members of chief and council as well as the impacts of COVID-19.
“It’s been a challenge,” said Jamieson — acknowledging that the worldwide coronavirus pandemic has taken it’s toll on everyone, including council members. “I think people are stressed.”
“The pandemic has been intrusive and that is part of the reason for so much tension,” said Jamieson. “People are worried. They don’t want to make the wrong move. A lot of decisions are scrutinized and it becomes a defensive position. We have to get past that. I’m trying to get them to focus on the vision for the community — how do we action that?”
Jamieson says for his part in this administration — he is seeking to carve out space for the council to be able to refine a governance plan, detach from some of the administrative micromanaging that has taken hold over the years and balance the governance and administrative arms of the elected system.
He also says the council needs to step up and educate the community about Six Nations history — something he says has been missing and has contributed to some of the larger community tensions facing the elected council system at large.
“I look to this court case coming in 2022 as the real thing that we need to focus on going forward. It’s a positive thing. We need to do more education in the community. We have a big problem with land disputes here: we don’t have a common level of understanding. There’s more of that to come. It’s important that people get that. I know that the land protectors, protesters, their heart is in the right place. It’s just one of those deals where there’s been wrongdoings in the past. As much as possible let’s look at a more peaceful approach to it and let a court decide. They are a third party. It’s an independent body. They adjudicate, it’s a due process, it might not be our court but I think it’s the fairest mechanism we can look to,” said Jamieson.
“We’re one of those communities where we have lots of different views. As much as possible we have to come to a more common level about our history and all of the land issues around it. We always focus on negatives — and our history has been about peace time. What were the conditions that contributed to peace time? Let’s look at those times. They may have been few and far between— but they are there. I want to bring that perspective back,” said Jamieson.
“Going back to our Haudenosaunee values — everyone holds those. If you strip away the tensions and everything else, that is still there. I think there needs to be some refocus on that. We need to strengthen ourselves individually. I think sometimes we get lost, we get down these different paths because we want to stick it to the government or whatever — that’s just how people get. It’s also trauma informed. Our people have trauma. So that manifested itself in action. That is something I am keenly aware of.”
“I’m encouraged by some of the steps that are starting to take place. If we change the rhetoric and we change the vision or objective in our community and become more nation building and become about unity – yes we need to be sovereign and united but we also need to make sure we have the conditions for success. We need to make sure we’re not all burning out as well. Thats really important we have so many people that have such good intention.”