In this episode of the Red Man Laughing podcast we sit down and chat with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief - Derek Nepinak. In recent months, Grand Chief Nepinak has made headlines as one of the more vocal Leaders moving towards the formation of a National Treaty Alliance - an alternative group to the Assembly of First Nations. We talk with Grand Chief Nepinak about Idle No More, demanding Treaty be upheld and lived up to by the Crown and identifying the challenges of moving forward in our communities and Nations.
ABOUT GRAND CHIEF DEREK NEPINAK
Derek Joseph Nepinak. Niibin Makwa (Summer Bear) was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and spent his first few years living in the home of his grandparents on the Pine Creek First Nation. During this time, Derek observed his great grandparents living the ways of his people; hunting, fishing, gardening, smoking fish, tanning moose hides and other traditional activities. Derek was raised in a family setting with many aunts, uncles and cousins forming the family unit in the customary way of his people.Derek excelled in school and was also a very strong athlete in hockey, football & swimming. Derek also excelled at football and was the starting quarterback for his high school football team. In 1992, while swimming for the University of Calgary Derek swam in the Olympic Trials in Montreal and was a nation finalist. A few years later he practiced with the University of Alberta Golden Bears football team during his undergraduate degree. In University, Derek completed a First Class Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Native studies from the University of Alberta. While in the process of obtaining his first degree, Derek worked with Aboriginal youth in the care of Child & Family services. As a youth-care worker, he helped design an Aboriginal residential care program that integrated cultural awareness and protocols into the day-to-day activities of the youth. This helped to promote a much-needed sense of belonging and identity for the youth. Following his first degree, Derek traveled to the North and worked with two Dene communities near Fort Smith, NWT. In this capacity, Derek assisted in the development and revision of the Band’s Constitution, bylaw development, community planning, as well as economic development initiatives. While assisting the Dene people, Derek also completed a law degree from the University of Saskatchewan; in his last semester completing the Intensive Program in Aboriginal Lands, Resource & Governance at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. Derek excelled in the area of Aboriginal law where he received several academic awards, including a prestigious nation award from the University of Toronto Law School for the best student submission to the indigenous Law Journal. Continuing his education, Derek received the Duff Roblin Fellowship and enrolled in the Aboriginal Governance Master’s Program at the University of Winnipeg. Prior to completing his Master’s degree, Derek was called home by the people to become the Chief of the Pine Creek First Nation.
When Derek became Chief, the community of Pine Creek was in third party management and had defaulted on many of its CMHC mortgages. Several garnishees were registered against the band and third party managers controlled all INAC funds. INAC contribution agreements were in default and reporting standards were nonexistent. The band had also lost its bison herd and community morale was considerably low. In nine months, Chief Nepinak implemented financial and administrative controls and was able to take the community out of third party management. Chief Nepinak also brought the housing program into compliance and was able to get all eleven CMHC mortgages consolidated and paid consistently on time.
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