Posts tagged ‘National Chief’

National Chief Bellegarde appoints new Chief-of-Staff

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Bob Goulais and National Chief Perry Bellegarde

(Ottawa, ON) ― Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde is pleased to announce the appointment of a new Chief of Staff who will be responsible for implementation of his political agenda affecting First Nation across Canada. Bob Goulais, an Anishinaabe from Nipissing First Nation in Ontario, brings a great deal of experience with indigenous organizations, government and the private sector to the AFN. Goulais will assume his new duties on November 7, 2016.

“I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Bob Goulais as my Chief of Staff. I have great confidence in his abilities and appreciate the diverse skillset he brings to my office,” said National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “He will play a key role in providing strategic advice, political advice and advancing our agenda.”

“There is an unprecedented opportunity for First Nations in Canada to influence the public policy landscape and implement positive change for our peoples,” said Bob Goulais. “I look forward to the challenge of this important position and supporting the National Chief in representing First Nations rights, interests and perspectives.”

“This is an exciting time for the Assembly of First Nations, where we are solidifying corporate and political leadership with the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer and my Chief of Staff,” said National Chief Bellegarde. Mr. Goulais joins Ms. Judy White, a Mi’kmaq from Flat Bay, who assumed the office of CEO on October 31.

Mr. Goulais is an experienced senior executive, public servant and professional communicator who has provided more than 20 years of service to industry, non-for-profit, First Nations and government. Throughout his career, Goulais has excelled in situations requiring significant change management, organizational development and community engagement. Goulais recently served as President of Nbisiing Consulting Inc., the founding Director of Aboriginal Relations for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, Senior Communications Advisor to the Ontario Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Manager of Cultural Policy and Strategic Policy and Planning for the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, and Chief of Staff for the Grand Council Chief of the Anishinabek Nation in Ontario.

National Chief Perry Bellegarde has also expressed his gratitude to former Acting Chief of Staff Wendy Moss for filling the role for the past five months.

The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

FNs Need To Be More Strategic, Politically Saavy

Chris Wattie/Reuters Photo

For weeks, I’ve been telling anyone that will listen, that realistically, this Prime Minister will only be attending the Crown-First Nations Gathering tomorrow in Ottawa for a grand total of thirty minutes.  Mark my words, the Prime Minister will take part in the opening ceremony, give his ten minute speech, and listen to the first couple of speeches.  However, he will depart within the hour.  Meanwhile, he will not have heard from the hundreds of Chiefs and their supporters that will be descending into Ottawa today as we speak.

That’s really par for the course for Mr. Harper when it comes to addressing Aboriginal issues such as poverty, education, economic development, the housing crisis, and missing and murdered Aboriginal women.  Any proactive, ambitious or comprehensive solution are just not in his bag of tricks nor what is being expected of his core constituents.

Needless to say, there are going to be a lot of disappointed Chiefs who have spend countless hours refining their speaking notes in anticipation of an audience with the PM.

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) should have anticipated this situation and prepared to make better use of those precious few minutes.

In hindsight, if I was the National Chief, I would have used the annual AFN Special Chiefs Assembly held in December to bring First Nations together to develop a singular message with a corresponding action plan for the Prime Minister’s consideration.  This could have been brought to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) ahead of time for further strategic discussion prior to this week’s gathering.  This Crown-First Nations Gathering could then have been used for goal setting and implementation discussions between Ministers and officials.  Instead of bringing all these Chiefs to Ottawa this week, First Nations could have empowered National Chief Shawn Atleo with their message.

Sure, the National Chief will request a First Minister’s Meeting tomorrow.  Prime Minister Harper may very well agree to it.  But needless to say, the exercise of bringing all these Chiefs, Councillors and support staff to Ottawa will be unnecessary and unproductive.  I’m sure some simple-minded commentator will point out that these wasted resources could have been used to build a few more houses in Attawapiskat.

The modern day tradition of having First Nations Chiefs lining up at the microphones to speak to politicians is not very effective, nor strategic.  The reality is that our First Nations leaders are no longer cutting edge, inspirational orators.  They’re purveyors of tired, political rhetoric.

That reminds me of the times I took part in preparing for the annual meeting held between First Nations and the Ontario Premier.  Prior to each meeting, the Political Confederacy of Ontario led by the Chiefs of Ontario would develop a slide deck of key messages, and then divvy up the messaging among the Grand Chiefs.  Good plan, right?  Makes sense, sure.  Keep in mind the meeting is scheduled for one hour.

The meeting would proceed with an ever-so brief welcome from Premier Dalton McGuinty, five minutes, tops.  Followed by an introduction of the issues by the Ontario Regional Chief.  That almost always does a bit too long.  Each Grand Chief’s appointed section would also go over schedule.  Almost always, an unannounced Chief would come forward to speak to an important issue of the day, but in turn, taking up another unexpected, unscheduled fifteen minutes.  The meeting would result in little dialogue with the Premier but include plenty of complex messaging, background, context, examples and, of course, rhetoric.  Almost always, there are far too many issues, very few solutions, all wrapped into a whole lot of “rights-based” political rhetoric.  (Somebody ask Mr. McGuinty or his Cabinet what “rights-based” means and they wouldn’t have the faintest clue.)

As First Nations, we need to learn to be more savvy politicians.  We need to be far more strategic and opportunistic.  I disagree with those who state there is no need for the AFN or for Chiefs to be involved.  Actions plans don’t just happen, they need to be developed then implemented.  But this needs to be done in a much more strategic way.  Do we have goals, objectives and timelines?  Do we have workplans and required resources to achieve a political goal?  Do we have strategies to get there?  Goals shouldn’t only be “rights-based” they need to be solutions-based.

As The Byrds and Kevin Bacon tell us, there is a time for every purpose.  There is a time for talk – when it leads to fruitful discussion.  There is a time for speeches – when it leads to inspiration and understanding.  Indeed, there is a time for photo opps, when solutions are being implemented.

In this case, we only have thirty minutes with the Prime Minister.  How will the National Chief and First Nations use their time?