When Kirby Whiteduck was elected chief of the Algonquin Nation in Pikwakanagan, Ont., he came to office with a clear vision, reported Pembroke’s Daily Observer Feb. 24. “I wanted to bring back, restore and maintain our traditions and culture and at the same time lead our community to become more involved with outside communities,” said the York grad. Today, with the help of his council, his fellow band members and the administrative staff, he is well on his way to meeting his goals. Programs are in place to restore the Algonquin language and culture, there are long-term plans for economic development, including private sector partnerships, and it has been demonstrated in more than one area that the Pikwakanagan can “do things for themselves by themselves,” explained Whiteduck. “We have improved health care services, built better education programs, our public works department has been updated, we are making strides in economic development, we have a seniors’ home, are building a foster care home, special services and programs for children are available and funds for community development come from the Native Casino Rama program,” he said. “To do this we have had to overcome some negative attitudes,” he added. “We have made overtures and developed successful relationships with our neighbours and we have integrated several regional programs.”
Chief Whiteduck is a native of Pikwakanagan; he attended elementary school in Eganville, went to Opeongo High School and obtained an honours BA in anthropology from York University in 1982. Before returning home, he worked as a researcher for the federal government and the Ontario Indian Nations. His duties as chief keep him busy, but he does find some time to do some fishing.
- Political scientist Harvey Simmons, professor emeritus in York’s Faculty of Arts, analyzed George Bush’s attempt to mend fences during a current visit to Europe, as part of a panel on TVO’s “Studio 2” Feb. 23.