Maggie Blackbird

Romancing Canada's Indigenous People


Who are the people in your neighbourhood?

My poor blog.  I’ve been neglecting him.  The only idea I can think of for posting is another addition of life on the rez.  Let’s look at what you’ll usually find and where some people work, such as the administration centre aka band office.

Yes, every community has a band office.  Some are old and almost falling down.  Some are new.  Some are in the middle.

One position that is constant, no matter which community you visit, is the band manager.  This person is comparable to the town administrator.  It’s not an easy job.  One I certainly wouldn’t take on.  Not only does this person oversee the budget, they are responsible for all staff working for the band.  He/she also attends every band council/band meeting and prepares the reports for Chief and Council to review.  Sort of like town council and open town council meetings.

So they must be quite versed in administration, human resources, finance, etc.  They must also have knowledge of the Indian Act (specific for Canada) and the many departments of the federal government, such as ANAC (Aboriginal Northern Affairs Canada) aka formerly INAC (Indian Northern Affairs Canada).

If he/she is lucky, the band manager might have people working under him/her managing the social services funds, education funds, etc.  But it depends on how big the band is.  If it’s a small band, they’ll be short-staffed and over-worked.

The band manager usually has a finance person to work with, known as the financial administrator or band bookkeeper.

The band bookkeeper works closely with the band manager since they are responsible for everything financial regarding band funding.  This person manages all of the various budgets, whether social services, education, operations and maintenance, day care, etc.

This brings me to the social services administrator aka welfare worker.  Not only does this person have to follow band policy, they must also ensure the band is following the policies of whoever they receive funding from; the same can be said for any other programs and services available.

Other positions?  Education Counsellor, O & M (operations and maintenance), band secretary, and CHR (Community Health Representative).

Possible positions, depending on funding and size of the band:  Band Economic Development Officer or BEDO; NNDAP Worker (National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program); Family Services Worker or FSW; Housing Co-ordinator; Day Care Supervisor; Early Childhood Educators; Genealogist; and if there is a school:  Principal, secretary and teachers and maybe a guidance counsellor.  First Nation Constables patrol various bands.

There are private sector businesses, such as log-haul trucking; convenience store, restaurant, cut and skid; Laundromat, pharmacy, etc.  The band may also own businesses and hire band members to manage and work at them, such as a golf course.

So if you happen by a band, you’ll see the band office, and depending on the band, may contain:  a recreation centre, baseball field, fire department building (all volunteer), pow wow grounds, round house, a First Nation Policing satellite office; a day care centre, health centre, a school, a convenience gas store, senior’s home, and a church.

The band I belong to, we have a church.  It’s been around forever.  Going back well into the 1800s.  All of the pictures from eons ago are on display in the church basement.  No, nobody is dressed in traditional regalia in these very old photos.  It’s shirts, pants/skirts.  The signing of the treaty in this area was the early 1870s; most were living in houses and wearing such clothing by around 1860/65.

The graveyard where all of the band members are buried is looked after by individual volunteers.

This area is rich in lakes, so all of the bands are on lakes or rivers.  Three I’d visited for work, I took a boat in (no road).  One funny trip, the weather was so terrible that water came up into the skiff, so everyone got wet…but me.  Whee!  Er, bad for them, though.

In Canada, the three aboriginal populations are:  First Nations (Native Americans if in the USA); Metis; and Inuit.

The contemporary GLBT romance I’m currently editing takes place in Canada on a fictional First Nation (formerly known as Indian Reserves in Canada, and known as Indian Reservations in the USA) in Northwestern Ontario and centers around the school.

I never thought I’d write a story about the rez.  Always seen it as too boring.  But I must confess I’m glad I did take advice from a past writer instructor who kept urging me to, “Write what you know.”

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