Protesters picket at Rainy River First Nation

Six Rainy River First Nation residents spent last Friday picketing at the reserve to demand the opportunity for more community involvement in council decisions.
“We haven’t been getting any community meetings, we haven’t been getting any information and the council has been meeting in Fort Frances,” complained Agnes Saderwasser, one of the residents who picketed.
“We want council to look at our issues and deal with them instead of leaving them on the table,” she added.
The protesters wrote a list of 10 demands, which were submitted to council and included in a letter to local MP Robert Nault, who’s also the minister of Indian and Northern Affairs.
Topping the demands were a request to see the results of a community audit and a request for funding from Casino Rama proceeds to be allocated.
Saderwasser claimed the council has run a deficit of about $400,000 and is sitting on about $1.2 million from the casino proceeds–money she feels should be used in the community and not to pay for council’s mistakes.
“You’ve got to stand up and not be silent, it’s time to have regular meetings with the community,” she argued.
Jim Leonard, chief of Rainy River First Nation, has taken on a position as executive director at Pwi-Di-Goo-Zing Ne-Yaa-Zhing Advisory Services and reportedly is not going to seek re-election in October.
As one of their 10 demands, Friday’s protesters sought Leonard’s resignation as chief or as executive director, stating a conflict of interest.
Chief Leonard was not available for comment.
Saderwasser and the other five woman who protested may wave their signs again if they do not get a response from council. And, Saderwasser warned, they plan to encourage others to join them.
“We’ve been getting thumbs up and support from people,” she said. “We need communication, information, and participation. They can’t decide unless they have the people’s suggestions.
“If we don’t [see change], then there will be another protest with more people,” she vowed.