How do we get our members involved in community decision-making?
Convenor: Liz Logan
Participants: Treena Harry, Mike Jack, Christine Barney, Brenda Ireland, Liz Logan, Nick Albany,
The challenge is getting community participation when past experiences were extremely negative (yelling, screaming, shut down, disrespected, ignored). Lots of information and notice have been provided but still very low participation:
- perhaps more information on what meeting is actually about, not just list of agenda items
- family Council’s have influenced change in some communities; at least there is family representation.
Works in some situations i.e. housing
- Hard to get members to come to meetings on land code; membership doesn’t understand and doesn’t attend. Doesn’t seem to be much interest
- suggestion that making personal contact is key – visit people at their homes, send out notice letting people know that they can expect a visitor (committee members or employee). Visit more than once may be required
- secret ballots may be required
- no one wants to be volunteer anymore
- community needs to go through a healing process; i.e. decolonization that uses indigenous teachings and processes
- leaders need to model healthy living and decision-making, need to be accessible
- when community sees that others will stand up to and challenge “bullies” or these promoting personal agenda they can be encouraged to do the same
- if possible, provide transportation and childcare for meetings and, of course, food
- nepotism is a problem. Families who are elected “look after their own”. Communities can learn that if they work together and come together they can remove “ruling” families and start change
- have “open houses” so that community members become familiar with what happens at band office.
- Have interested youth and members shadow chief and council members so that they can learn what the responsibilities entail
- suggestion that band staff be trained and understand the importance of professionalism (not gossiping, being confidential)
- Chief and Council gathering that provides opportunity to discuss joint challenges and issues that in a non-political place to share ideas on grassroots issues like engaging membership, dogs, members expectations of Chief/Council? responsibilities
- go back to traditional settings, participate in traditional activities as way to bring community together in a way that is non-political in nature
- challenge is that increasingly members expect Chief and Council to make the decisions. Membership is engaging the western political processes and losing the traditional community consensus model.
- Chief and Councils as well as staff forget that they are “working for the people”