An organization that represents 26 First Nations in Northern Manitoba say they were pleased with interim Premier Kelvin Goertzen’s performance on his first day on the job, and happy to hear that Goertzen appears willing to communicate and work with First Nations leaders in Manitoba.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) Grand Chief Garrison Settee said he had a telephone meeting planned for Thursday with Goertzen, who made his first public comments as interim premier on Wednesday afternoon.
“It is essential for leaders to listen, and it’s hopeful to hear from the new premier that he is willing to listen," said Settee. "His actions in the coming weeks can help to build community and heal some of the divisions that have been caused by past leadership.”
Goertzen will serve as interim leader of the province until the party chooses a new leader later next month, and Settee is now urging whoever takes over the role to take steps to work closely and collaborate with First Nations leaders, and with Indigenous people in this province.
According to a spokesperson from the province, Goertzen had "reached out to all the Grand Chiefs as he continues to listen and talk with Manitobans."
“We encourage any incoming leader to follow Kelvin Goertzen’s lead and ensure you take the time to listen to others. I am hopeful we will be able to work with a premier who is fully committed to reconciliation, and to working to build a better Manitoba,” Settee said.
Settee also praised Goertzen after he announced that a number of controversial bills currently in the legislature will now not move forward.
“I extend our appreciation to interim Premier Kelvin Goertzen for taking action on his first day in office by withdrawing Bill 64 along with several other Bills that would have a detrimental impact on First Nations citizens in Northern Manitoba,” Settee said.
In a separate statement released on Wednesday Settee also said he is happy to see former Premier Brian Pallister step down.
“We are pleased to know that Brian Pallister’s term as Premier of Manitoba has come to an end today,” Settee said.
“It is in the best interests of Indigenous people that we never have to experience a Premier like Brian Pallister in our future, and for the future generations to come.
“We look forward to working with a Premier who is fully committed to truth and reconciliation, and working with First Nations.”
— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun