Brian Perrault has been re-elected as chief of Couchiching First Nation.
“It's a very humbling experience to have the community want me to continue in this role,” Chief Perrault said yesterday.
“It's an honour to represent the community as a chief.”
Nikki Perrault, Delray Bruyere, Daniel Morrisseau, Scott McPherson, and William Perrault were the other nominees for chief in the election, which was held Thursday.
While William Perrault didn't win as chief, he was re-elected as a band councillor to serve another two-year term.
Lucille Morrisseau and David Bruyere were re-elected, as well.
New faces on Couchiching's council include Sandy Bruyere, Joan Mainville, and Ron Archie.
The six were chosen from among the 22 nominees who ran for council.
Chief Perrault said he wants to work with the First Nations' communities in the area to bring a long-term care facility to the reserve to serve aboriginal people in the district.
As well, he would like to see a new election code the community can agree upon.
Another key issue Chief Perrault would like to address, which is affecting not only Couchiching but communities across Canada, is the opiate crisis.
“In native and non-native communities, as well, one of the biggest problems is how rampant the opiate crisis is,” he remarked.
“We as Treaty #3, as the tribal area, have declared this a health crisis for our communities.”
Coun. Perrault, meanwhile, is excited to serve another term on the band council.
“It is such an honour to be elected by my community members and to represent them over the next two years,” he noted.
Coun. Perrault believes he was re-elected because he tries make unbiased decisions and approach issues with empathy for both sides.
“I try to look at situations with an open mind,” he explained.
“Usually when you have a situation, there is two sides, so I try to come at it from both sides and look at what's best for the community.”
Coun. Perrault also is trying to bring an increased level of transparency between Couchiching's council and the community.
“One of the things I want to accomplish is being more accountable to the community,” he stressed.
As such, he's encouraging members of the reserve to voice their questions and concerns throughout the year, not just at election time.
“Normally things get heated up for a month or two when the election is called,” Coun. Perrault noted.
“But I wish people would continue asking questions all the time and be engaging all the time.”
He added getting community members to question council's decisions is one of the key ways to keep it accountable.
During this next term, Coun. Perrault said he's going to focus on resolving issues within the community, as well as improving relationships with other communities in Rainy River District.
He said his focus moving forward is to “tidy things up first within the community and strengthen relationships with other communities, like the local school boards and the Town of Fort Frances.”
“All of us are in the north for a reason," he added. ”People who don't want to live here move away and the people that stay here do so because they want to be here.
“We all have common issues so working together can help overcome those issues.”
Chief Perrault agrees that working together to solve issues is the best approach.
“When you have a good working relationship, you are able to face new ideas together," he reasoned. ”And when you do things together, you are able to accomplish more.
“It's always good to have that support because we want to improve the lives of people in all our communities.”
Chief Perrault is looking forward to working with other communities and municipalities to combat issues that affect the entire Rainy River District, not just Couchiching.
He is grateful to have been re-elected and thanks the community for entrusting him as their chief.
“I want to thank the whole community," Chief Perrault said. ”I want to thank them for participating in the election.
“I will continue practising our culture in meetings, and continue to try and represent our community in an honourable way.”
The new council will take effect tomorrow (March 8).