There’s no training in place to become a Mohawk Council of Kanesatake (MCK) chief, but first-term Council member Amy Beauvais believes First Nations Executive Education (FNEE) would be a good launching point for anyone who wants to get involved in community politics.

“I got a lot of useful information that I can use in my leadership position,” said Beauvais, who walked the graduation stage on November 17 for her completion of two HEC Montreal-embedded FNEE programs, “women in leadership” and “becoming a transformational leader.”

She did modules throughout the year to obtain the certifications. At one point, the students in her transformational leader course – community politicians and board members – had to develop a project to present at work; Beauvais decided to pursue the development of a communications department at the MCK.

“There was a large outcry of lack of communication, misinformation, because I’ve heard that repeatedly over and over by different people in the community, I said you know what, the thing that I think will make the biggest impact is if I create a communications project.”

She envisions a department that can handle social media and Council’s online presence while implementing protocols to control unfounded rumours in the community. A website revamp would create a secure platform for community discourse, she said.

“Part of what my actual campaign was when I was trying to get elected was to create a platform for the members so they feel safe to be able to actually communicate with us,” she said.

In terms of the women in leadership program, she said the biggest obstacle she has faced has been balancing her role as a Council chief with being a single mother.

“One of the biggest issues that I’ve had is trying to figure out the babysitting and stuff,” she said, pointing to realities like last-minute meetings as difficult to accommodate. 

She said the Kanesatake Health Center (KHC) after-school program has been an asset. “That’s actually helped me immensely,” she said.

Overall, one of the biggest benefits of FNEE programs is the networking and sense of collaboration, she said, a concept that is baked into the school.

“It’s always a great place because basically nations and different communities get to meet together,” said FNEE communications advisor Ian Préfontaine, who assisted some of the sessions.

“There’s a lot of sharing. We find out that some of the problems and maybe ideas for solutions in different communities are not all the same, but similar,” he said, adding they target different areas of leadership and soft skills to develop.

The courses are developed by Indigenous teachers alongside other experts in an effort to tailor them to community realities, he added.

“This leadership transformation course focuses on change, how to manage change, how to communicate various viewpoints and work towards solutions,” said Kahnawa’kehró:non Bronson Cross, who sits on the board of directors of Kahnawake’s Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre (KMHC) and took the leadership course with Beauvais.

“Topics were interactive and allowed participants to share their knowledge and challenges.”

Cross, Beauvais, and a couple other students gave the school a lacrosse stick made by Kanehsata’kehró:non Travis Gabriel as a gift, which will be put on display at HEC Montreal.

Beauvais described her experience as rewarding overall and a positive one – especially in contrast to recent events at work.

“Considering what I was exposed to as a leader being on Council, it opened my eyes to another way of working, a more collaborative way,” she said. “It showed me that we can do better.”

Beauvais was among five MCK chiefs who were the subject of non-confidence motions at two community meetings called by MCK grand chief Victor Bonspille. The five chiefs say this process is not valid and vow to continue their work.

By Marcus Bankuti, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Nov 24, 2023 at 12:48

This item reprinted with permission from   The Eastern Door   Kahnawake, Quebec
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