The smell of sweetgrass filled the room of the Ermineskin Elders’ Centre last week during a ceremonial oath of office for the new members of Ermineskin council.
A large crowd filled the main room of the centre Wednesday, Oct. 1 to welcome new councillors and a new chief that will help plan for the future of more than 4,000 band members.
Elders started the event with a pipe ceremony and respected elders took time to pray for the new councillors and chief. Members of the Ermineskin Cree Nation voted Randy Ermineskin to be the new chief.
Ermineskin planners staged elections for councillors to ensure there is a smooth transition for newly elected councillors. As such, there were four out of eight seats open during elections this year. Two councillors were re-elected and two are new to the job.
Councillors Anne Wildcat and Nina Makinaw were newly elected to band council while councillors Daniel Makinaw and Samuel Colin Wildcat were re-elected. Making up the rest of council is Gordon Minde, Brian Lee, Daniel Wildcat and Dennis Whitebear.
Chief Ermineskin, new councillors and re-elected councillors were honoured with an eagle feather from elders during the ceremony. One elder spoke to them and said they have a responsibility to care for the Ermineskin people. “The position of leadership is a 24/7 job…the welfare of 4,000 people is at stake.”
The new chief said he knows they have some challenges ahead as a council but his biggest goal is reaching out to constituents and ensuring they are fully informed of council’s actions. “I care about the community.”
Ermineskin’s brother Jerry, a former chief, died recently and Ermineskin said he wants to make his brother proud of his efforts.
Re-elected Coun. Daniel Makinaw is grateful to have been elected to represent the Ermineskin Nation. “We have a heavy load. We hear that a lot but I welcome that,” said Makinaw.
He referred to the issues of missing aboriginal women and said he intends to see those issues are dealt with. “I know that we can overcome that obstacle. We can make out presence felt.”
Coun. Anne Wildcat said the eagle feather is about speaking the truth and she took time to speak with attendees. She suggested some of the challenges and issues Maskwacis community faces stem from money and greed. Wildcat believes the feeling of kinship is an important aspect of being united.