Serpent River First Nation holds Land Referendum Meeting in Sudbury, Ontario

TORONTO, Sept. 23, 2011 /CNW/ - The community of Serpent River First Nation has completed four of five community information sessions regarding a land referendum vote that will take place on October 4th 2011.

The purpose of the referendum is to acquire lands held in trust under the Indian Act. The land will be transferred to the band's Economic Development Corporation under a head lease for the purposes of economic development.

Chief Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini, stated: "Serpent River First Nation members will be in more control of these lands under the proposed head lease structure because the band can then lease land to developers with the proper legal structure and authority to impose strict environmental and other regulations that protect the community's interest."

At the Sudbury meeting, members from the First Nation had an opportunity to listen to a detailed presentation on the Land Designation proposal but were also able to field a number of questions and comments regarding this important topic.

Melinda Commanda, a member of the First Nation said, "attending information sessions regarding issues that will affect our children and our grandchildren is important so that we can obtain vital information that will affect their lives. In my opinion, this initiative should be supported."

Tim Foltz, another band member, spoke at length about the history of the First Nation and stated: "this is a good idea. Back in the 1950s we didn't have the day care, we didn't have the trading post, or the number of stores or developments that we have now. All we had was just one store. Let's not be fearful about moving forward."

The meeting had many important perspectives put forward by interested members and many points made to further scrutinize the band's engagement and consultation of its membership. The First Nation was very clear that it needed to reach out and talk to its members in person and in communities where there were high populations of off-reserve members.

Rose Messina, another band member, had a number of excellent comments. "The information sessions are good because no matter what your personal opinion is of chief and council, knowing the process helps you be knowledgeable and objective, making an informed decision," said Messina.

Jen Simpson, a member living outside the community also observed: "by being proactive and participating in these sessions, it helps address any potential issues or concerns, obtains first hand information and reduces questions. It is also important, knowing that social impacts will not be an afterthought. This truly assists members in the decision-making process."

Members of the Band Council and the Economic Development Corporation are hopeful that the referendum will create a favourable response of a 51% voter turnout and a simple majority of that number. If the vote goes through, the band stands to successfully proceed with a number of government partners and the private sector in building and operating an LED light assembly plant within the next year.

Band members of the Serpent River First Nation are being asked to contact the First Nation if they have not received their information packages. Mail-in ballots are suggested to be in the mail by the September 27th 2011 in order to make the October 4th vote.

The band will hold another information session at the Native Canadian Center in Toronto from 5-9pm on Monday September 26th 2011.

SOURCE Anishinabek Nation

For further information:

Melissa Chesterfield, Communications Specialist
Serpent River First Nation
(705) 844-2418 - melissac.srfn@ontera.net

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