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AMC Annual General Assembly

It was with great pride that the MFNERC was present during this year’s Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Annual General Assembly at the beautiful Opaskwayak Cree Nation July 26-28, 2011. During these three days, the Chiefs met and worked diligently to decide who their next leader would be. This year was election year and the Chiefs of Manitoba were voting for their next Grand Chief which is a three year term. Former Grand Chiefs include: Ron Evans (Norway House, 2005-2011); Dennis White Bird (Rolling River, 2000-2005); Rod Bushie (Hollow Water, 1997-2000); Phil Fontaine (Sagkeeng, 1989-1997) and Louis Stevenson (Peguis, 1987-1989). The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is the political voice of action for First Nations in Manitoba.

At the end of the second day, after the second ballot the new Grand Chief was announced; 37 year old Derek Nepinak.
Derek Joseph Nepinak. Niibin Makwa (Summer Bear) was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and spent his first few years living in the home of his grandparents on the Pine Creek First Nation. During this time, Derek observed his great grandparents living the ways of his people; hunting, fishing, gardening, smoking fish, tanning moose hides and other traditional activities. Derek was raised in a family setting with many aunts, uncles and cousins forming the family unit in the customary way of his people.
Derek excelled in school and was also a very strong athlete in hockey, football & swimming. Derek also excelled at football and was the starting quarterback for his high school football team. In 1992, while swimming for the University of Calgary Derek swam in the Olympic Trials in Montreal and was a nation finalist. A few years later he practiced with the University of Alberta Golden Bears football team during his undergraduate degree.

In University, Derek completed a First Class Hours Bachelor of Arts degree in Native studies from the University of Alberta. While in the process of obtaining his first degree, Derek worked with Aboriginal youth in the care of Child & Family services. As a youth-care worker, he helped design an Aboriginal residential care program that integrated cultural awareness and protocols into the day-to-day activities of the youth. This helped to promote a much-needed sense of belonging and identity for the youth.

Following his first degree, Derek travelled to the North and worked with two Dene communities near Fort Smith, NWT. In this capacity, Derek assisted in the development and revision of the Band’s Constitution, bylaw development, community planning, as well as economic development initiatives. While assisting the Dene people, Derek also completed a law degree from the University of Saskatchewan; in his last semester completing the Intensive Program in Aboriginal Lands, Resource & Governance at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. Derek excelled in the area of Aboriginal law where he received several academic awards, including a prestigious national award from the University of Toronto Law School for the best student submission to the indigenous Law Journal.

Continuing his education, Derek received the Duff Roblin Fellowship and enrolled in the Aboriginal Governance Master’s Program at the University of Winnipeg. Prior to completing his Master’s degree, Derek was called home by the people to become the Chief of the Pine Creek First Nation.

While serving as Chief of Pine Creek First Nation, he was also the AMC co-chairman for consultation and accommodation, a member of the executive committees of both the AMC and the Southern Chiefs’ Organization and has served as chairman of the West Region Tribal Council.

The Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre staff and management congratulate Grand Chief Nepinak as the new leader of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs!