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Ocean Man Makes History

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      APRIL 1997      v27 n01 p18  
The Chief and Council of the Ocean Man First Nation have created a new chapter in Canadian history. For the first time in this country, a First Nation has elected an all-female Chief and Council.

The Ocean Man First Nation consists of about 300 members. Of these, 125 live on reserve. Of course, now that Ocean Man has an all-woman Chief and Council, it begs the question: Will they change the name?

The four-person Council was elected on January 14, 1997. Because the original election resulted in a tie for Chief, another was held one month later. On February 14, 1997, Chief Laura Big Eagle was elected to her third term in office.

The newly-elected Ocean Man Councillors consist of Christine Grealy, whose portfolio is Health and Elders; Tara Parisier, whose portfolio is Finance and Accounting; Gloria Shepherd who has the Housing portfolio; and Charlene Crevier who is taking on the Education and Post-Secondary portfolio. This is the first term for each of the Councillors.

The Councillors were surprised to find out about their history-making election. However, as Crevier says, "We feel very privileged [to hold these positions)." Band members elected them from a field of 12 candidates that was evenly split between men and women.

In the time since they were elected, Parisier says, "We've been quite busy and what we've been relying on is teamwork." This statement is echoed by the rest of
the women. "We all have skills to offer," says Grealy.

Together, they are working to make education one of their priorities. All of the women have post-secondary education's and have earned either a degree or certificate. Shepherd states that placing the emphasis on education will "build strong communities to work together for future generations".