(Enoch, AB) – On November 30, 2016 Chiefs of the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations nominated Dr. Wilton Littlechild to the position of the Grand Chief of their political organization and he has officially accepted becoming the first “non-sitting” Chief to the hold the position. Dr. Wilton Littlechild will hold the position of the Grand Chief for a three-year term.
The Confederacy has been in operation since 1993 and acts as a collective political entity for the Chiefs of the seventeen First Nations of Treaty Six west of the Alberta/Saskatchewan border. Treaty No. 6 of 1876 has a land mass that when the provincial boundaries were established, crossed three provinces. Previously the Grand Chief who acts as the spokesperson for the Chiefs has been rotated annually among the Chiefs; however, the workload of being the Chief of a First Nation is a full-time job and the added responsibilities of being the Grand Chief is often overwhelming by the demands. The Chiefs have been considering making the move to a full time Grand Chief for several years and finally have found the individual they all have great respect for in the person of Wilton Littlechild. Other names were put forth but all agreed upon Dr. Littlechild.
“Willie” is a highly-respected individual, renowned for his work at the United Nations advocating for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; he spent nearly thirty years working on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) that was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007. He was the first Treaty person to graduate with a law degree from the University of Alberta, he is a former Member of Parliament, the recipient of the Order of Canada, and has also received countless awards in business and sports. He recently completed a six-year term on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada on the Indian Residential School era.
Willie was the first North American representative at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and has completed his term on the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMPRIP). He has taught post-secondary students on the Treaties and is a sought-after key-note speaker. In his acceptance speech, he stated he would focus on carrying out the political directives of the Chiefs, protecting Treaty No. 6 and building relationships. He said, “I look forward to meeting you in each of your nations.”
Chief Randy Ermineskin had accepted the appointment as interim Grand Chief this past summer for a six month period. Chief Ermineskin stated that he would work towards bringing in a competent individual to fulfill the Grand Chief role and at their regular meeting he fulfilled his commitment. The Chiefs expressed their appreciation to Grand Chief Ermineskin for taking on the duties and responsibilities during his six-month term.
There will be a one month transition period between Grand Chief Ermineskin and Grand Chief Littlechild with a traditional leadership transfer ceremony being planned for the new year.
The achievement of recognition and justice for Indigenous peoples is upon us! The full participation of indigenous hunting and trapping organisations, and indigenous peoples generally, in the development and management of territorial wildlife guardianship policies; food security initiatives; land management practices, and the meaningful pursuit of research and education in these areas is a necessary condition to guarantee environmental health sustainability and peace into the future. And may one mighty flowering tree shelter all children of one mother and one father in fulfillment of the powerful vision of Black Elk. Let Canada now embark on this sacred path!
Fred O’Brien, Founding Director (1986) International Federation of Environmental Health