ABOUT THE PARTICIPANTS
Verna Kirkness -
Education Writer and Researcher on Wahbung
"This is the one time in history that our people accomplished a major work in a short time. It was after all, a response to the government’s White Paper, designed to remove the special status of Indians. Wahbung was just one of the papers that was being written by Indian organizations of Canada. It was to give the government notice that we would no longer be pawns of the government and that we would set our own direction. We were extremely motivated."
Since Wahbung and up to the present day, Verna J. Kirkness has maintained her interest and credentials in the area of education. She has continued to make contributions and has gone on in her field to be recognized by her own people and to be granted several honourary degrees by educational institutions.
Health Writer and Researcher on Wahbung
"It felt very fitting to work for an Indian organization, advocating for the rights of our people and addressing practical issues that made a difference to life at the community level."
Janet Fontaine has worked in a number of areas throughout her career—health, business consultation, tourism, provincial cabinet committee work, and back to Aboriginal health with the provincial government.
Director of Consultations and Negotiations on Wahbung
"We need a spirit of commitment to empower our people. With that spirit, instead of a “career,” make a commitment as a First Nations person to First Nations."
Jocelyn Bruyere has achieved a master’s level degree in science and has been in leadership roles in her community, in her region, as tribal nursing officer for the Swampy Cree Tribal Council and within the province, working with the Diabetes Integration Project. Jocelyn has also served her profession through the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada and the Aboriginal Nurses of Manitoba.
Elder Dave Courchene Jr. -
Son of Grand Chief Dave Courchene Sr.
"The position paper Wahbung represented the voice of the people. It proposed ideas of how we could be removed from our marginalized world to a place where we could live our dreams, our autonomy and our sovereignty as a people. All it has required, then and now, is the opportunity to share in the wealth and abundance of the land, and the respect to live the ancestral ways of our people."
Dave Courchene – Nii Gaani Aki Inini (Leading Earth Man) has travelled internationally, carrying a message of hope and peace. Dave shares the ancient knowledge of the Original People of Turtle Island, that he believes can act as the foundation in supporting the New Life that Mother Earth is now entering, and that the Elders have confirmed has arrived.
Grand Chief Derek Nepinak -
Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
Grand Chief Derek Nepinak is former Chief of Pine Creek First Nation, the AMC co-chairman for consultation and accommodation, a member of the executive committees of both the AMC and the Southern Chiefs’ Organization and has served as chairman of the West Region Tribal Council.
He holds a first-class honours degree from the University of Alberta, a law degree from the University of Saskatchewan and has completed the intensive program aboriginal lands, resources and governance at Osgoode Hall law school. Nepinak interrupted his studies on a masters degree in indigenous governance to become Pine Creek First Nation chief.