Long-time Muskoday Chief retiring early 2019
- EFN Staff | December 18, 2018
Come March of 2019, Chief Austin Bear will be out of a job. And he’s looking forward to it. After a run of fourteen consecutive terms as Chief of the Muskoday First Nation, Austin Bear has decided to not run again and enjoy some time as a civilian. A ground-breaking leader on land management and addiction services, Chief Bear now intends to turn his attention to an often-neglected part of his life.
“Over the years I have lost a great deal of time to my work and travel. Lost to my wife, my family, children and grand children and great grand children,” said Chief Bear during an interview. “I look forward to spending more time with my partner. Other than that, I simply want to keep busy.”
And busy he will be. First is time spent with his spouse, three children, seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren. And as much as he is retiring, Bear is still on the First Nation Lands Advisory Board Resource Centre and is President of the National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation. These two movements are very close to his heart.
“One of the most satisfying things to myself and I think a benefit to First Nations across the country is the Framework on First Nations Land Management. And the number of First Nations from coast to coast that have become signatory to the agreement,” said Bear. “They went through their community process and their membership ratified their land code and now operational. In doing so they eliminated twenty five percent of the Indian Act so to me that is very satisfying.”
Bear and the Muskoday First Nation were leaders in removing their land from the Indian Act through the Land Management Act. Multiple First Nations across the country, including every member Nation of the Saskatoon Tribal Council operate under the Agreement. It is estimated that the Agreement has stimulated over $100 million in investments in these communities and created thousands of jobs.
To explain his long run in politics, Bear turns to his community. “Knowing my community. Honoring and respecting and working with the elders and my council and it comes down to a matter of how you treat others,” added Bear. “I made every effort to treat the people of Muskoday that I serve with respect, dignity and to do whatever I could possible to help, particularly our elders and those that are needy.”
He also adds that increased accountability has helped move things forward. “I think one of the things that changed is that First Nations are concentrated on good governance, accountability and transparency. Not necessarily to the government and the government funders, but more so to their membership and that’s where accountability and transparency should first rest.”
When asked what a long serving Chief’s secret to success is, the advice was easy. “I would suggest for political hopefuls or newly elected leaders, it is quite simple. Listen to the elders. Listen to your people.”