Four nominees, including incumbent David Harper, are seeking election to the office of grand chief at the 31st Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) annual general assembly being held Aug. 28-30 at Norway House Cree Nation.
Also seeking to become MKO grand chief are Chris Baker of O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation at South Indian Lake, George Neepin of Fox Lake Cree Nation at Gillam and Mike Muswagon of Norway House Cree Nation.
Baker was named chief of O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation when it officially became a First Nation in December 2005 and was re-elected to the position when elections were held in August of the following year.
Neepin is currently chief of the 1,129-member Fox Lake Cree Nation, while Muswagon is a former councillor of Norway House Cree Nation (NHCN) who currently serves as assistant to Chief Ron Evans. Muswagon was ruled by the Norway House Cree Nation election appeal committee to have engaged in corrupt practice along with fellow incumbent councillors Eliza Clarke and Langford Saunders during the 2006 NHCN chief and council elections after they signed and delivered 95 letters promising new homes or trailers and had furniture or appliances delivered to the homes of numerous electors. as a result, the three councillors - who had been re-elected - had their seats declared vacant.
Harper, formerly chief of Garden Hill First Nation, was elected as MKO grand chief in September 2009, beating out Brennan Manoakeesick of Garden Hill First Nation, William Elvis Thompson of Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and Jim Tobacco from Mosakahiken First Nation in the race to succeed Sydney Garrioch, who served as MKO grand chief for six years and worked as vice-chief for six years before that.
Eligible to vote in the grand chief election are all chiefs, headmen and councillors of MKO member Fist Nations.
Incorporated in 1981, MKO is a political advocacy organization that speaks for 30 sovereign First Nations that are signatories to Treaties 4, 5, 6 and 10.