Because the pandemic is restricting in-person meetings, a virtual Zoom meet was held to elect a new Grand Council Chief of the Anishinabek Nation.
On Wednesday, June 2, following a virtual traditional standup vote the current Chief of Mississauga First Nation and chair of the North Shore Tribal Council (NSTC), Reginald (Reg) Niganobe was elected to Grand Council Chief of the Anishinabek Nation. The final vote count of 20 votes went to Niganobe with incumbent Glenn Hare receiving 18 votes. With the new responsibilities as Grand Chief, Niganobe will be vacating his position as chair of the NSTC; however, he will maintain his role as Chief of Mississauga First Nation. The election was held by Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation.
The Anishinabek Nation is an umbrella group that speaks for 38 First Nations. The Anishinabek Nation first established the Union of Ontario Indians (UOI) in 1949 as a political advocate and secretariat for affiliated First Nations across Ontario. According to Niganobe, the UOI believes all 38 First Nations may take their own path.
In a recent statement, the newly elected Chief said, “The first issue needing attention is the residential school and the burial sites. I think that has to be a top priority on what’s dealt with right away, and it involves so many other First Nations, even beyond the Anishinabek Nation.”
Another priority he has is to return the UOI to its original role as an advocate for members helping the member First Nations work with government and industry. According to Niganobe, the UOI believes all 38 First Nations may take their own path, and the UOI is positioned to help them implement it.
The 41-year-old was weaned on the workings of politics and of what is needed to take care of his people. His father served as a councillor in Mississauga First Nation; his grandfather Eli served as both a councillor and chief of the First Nation.
Niganobe said towards the end of high school while growing up with friends in Mississauga First Nation when Douglas Daybutch was Mississauga chief he learned much from Daybutch, the father of a close friend. He calls Daybutch his mentor and credits him and his family for his step into politics at an early age. He has been part of Mississauga First Nation’s chief and council since 2009, starting as a councillor. He has been Chief of Mississauga since 2011.
Niganobe attended high school in Blind River, went to St. Lawrence College in Kingston taking social work. He is the father of two children, a seven-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy. He lives with his partner Juels. Growing up he spent a lot of time fishing and camping with his parents, two brothers and sisters. Today, he enjoys doing much of the same with his children and partner. A favourite spot of his is Manitoulin Island.