David Harper will serve a second terms as Manitoba Keewatnowi Okimakanak's grand chief after winning on the second ballot Aug. 29 at the 31st MKO Annual General Assembly being held at the Norway House Cree Nation.
The incumbent received 66 of 115 votes by member First Nations chiefs and councillors, beating out Mike Muswagon, who was second with 49 votes. Under MKO election rules, the winner must receive a majority of the votes cast, which in this case would have been 58.
Other candidates seeking the position of grand chief were George Neepin of the Fox Lake Cree Nation and Chris Baker of the O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation.
"I see the work of the visionary chiefs who established MKO when I look at the very strong organization that MKO has become today," said the victorious Harper in a press release announcing his re-election. "I also see the work of Mike Muswagon, George Neepin and Chris Baker in the organization."
The election was followed by a traditional blessing ceremony by Cree elders and honour songs from the Dene Youth Drummers from Lac Brochet and the Bloodline Drum from Opaskwayak Cree Nation. Grand Chief Harper then took the MKO oath of office.
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.