What would you do with $50 million? I would have done exactly what Kirby and Marie Fontaine did. I would have left the rez. I would have surely rented the best limo from Arizona Sedan And Limo Service.
But I wouldn’t leave home forever. Just long enough to formulate a financial plan, a media statement and develop my own social assistance office.
Kirby and Marie left Sagkeeng First Nation in a limousine, bound for Winnipeg to collect their $50 million jackpot from the Friday night LottoMax draw. It was the second largest lottery prize in Canadian history.
It’s a small world, I tell ya. By Saturday evening, their entire rez knew. My family, which is once-removed from the Fontaines, knew by dinner time on Saturday. We were celebrating and we didn’t even know the guy.
The reserve is a pretty small place. Even Sagkeeng, one of the largest communities in Manitoba, everybody knows everybody. You’re pretty much related to everybody, especially if you’re a Fontaine from Sagkeeng. Kirby is a cousin of former-National Chief Phil Fontaine.
From the Camerons of Waubauskang, to the Bruyeres of Couchiching – it seems that pretty much everyone from Treaty 3 is related to the Fontaines in some way, shape or form. It used to be fashionable to be related to Phil especially if you’re a political type. In the next few days, it will be much more fashionable to be related to Kirby.
You’ll need to practice: “Hey, cousin?” in your best Smoke Signals accent.
What would I do with $50 million? I would invest it wisely. I would set aside a fund that I could manage for larger purchases and financial management – an equity fund. I would set aside a larger fund for a professional to manage – a futures fund. Finally, I would set up a trust fund for my immediately family and my children that would pay a decent wage. A living subsidy. I would expect fairly low returns on the equity fund and the family trust. I would expect a higher rate of return on the futures fund.
Sure I would do some travelling, buy a new home and a new car.
Let’s dream together. Rome, Paris, Jerusalem, Tokyo, Peru, Egypt. And there’s a whole lot of the Carribean to cover: The Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Dominican, Aruba, Jamaica, Mexico, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Vincent, St. Lucia.
Fancy cars… nah, that’s not me. Maybe a Cadillac.
I would buy a nice home in suburban Toronto for my family, and build a nice new home on the rez. The Toronto home would have a pool. They would be homes befitting a Duchess and her Duke.
I would also pay off my family’s debts. I’m sure the Fontaine’s are going to do just that. The question is: who is going to qualify as “Family” (upper-case, and in quotations) when you have such a large family?
Here’s where the social assistance office fits in. I’m speaking facetiously of course. But you will need to develop policy and criteria. You’ll have to set up a system of payments and reporting. You will have to set a budget and likely have to keep books.
But giving out money doesn’t keep friends as it will likely alienate those who don’t get it. Saying ‘no’ to everybody doesn’t work either. Just see how well that goes. It may be something that works in downtown Winnipeg, but when you come back home to Sagkeeng it likely won’t go over that well. We’re Indians and we’re supposed to share.
Consider sponsoring a community feast and implement a soup line with wads of $100 bills to go around. Or establish a community foundation. Call it the Family Support Project. Not a very big one, just enough to keep the heat off until you’ve build your own gated community.
Sadly, a lottery win of this magnitude changes lives forever. Many people don’t cope very well. For those with addictions, which many Anishinaabe suffer from, access to unlimited money is a death curse. Many others will just piss away their fortune with no long term financial goals.
And what is it with cars? I’ve seen Anishinaabe take lottery winnings and buy cars for every day of the week. I’ve seen Anishinaabe get jobs and celebrate by buying cars. Open up a smoke shop and all of a sudden, you’ve got multiple cars lining up the driveway.
Kirby and Marie left in a limousine. I wonder what they’ll be driving when they get home?
How many rez cars can you buy for $50 million?