Karen Lafferty has taken over the reins of the Hay River Metis Government Council, hoping to bring with her more programming and cultural events for members.
“We’re a people, not a business,” said returning vice-president Trevor Beck. “We’re looking at more programming and activities for our elders and our youth, and for all our members.”
Lafferty was elected Nov. 23 at the group’s annual general meeting, taking over from former-president Wally Schumann. She is no stranger to elected office, having sat on the board of directors for the Hay River Metis. She is, however, the first woman to be elected to the top office for the organization, according to board member Jacqueline Carriere, a position Lafferty is proud to take.
“I grew up around politics and grew up living a Metis lifestyle,” she said of her upbringing in Fort Resolution, where her father served as president of the local Metis. “I moved to Hay River when I was 12, and I started a family here. So I changed my membership to have more opportunities to get involved.”
The newly elected board itself has a total of four new members besides Lafferty. Janine Hoff, Carriere and Rhonda Plamondon, along with Trevor Beck, remain from the previous term, now joined by new additions Dwayne Klause, Anthony Beck and Garett Flaherty.
“I feel very privileged to have this new board in place and I look forward to working with them,” she said.
While the new president thanked the former directors for their hard work, she said she is also aiming to bring back some of the culture she feels her people have lost.
“I had the privilege of of helping to co-ordinate the first annual Metis Culture Days last summer,” she said. “I just feel like we can put more programs out there and do more to engage the membership.”
Lafferty said some of her plans include community hunts, language programs, musical performances and culture camps. Her goal is to reach out to all Metis members and include them in the decisions of the council, as well as cultural programming.
Wally Schumann told The Hub he was grateful for the time he spent as president of the council, both for the opportunity to serve Metis members, as well as to forge strong links with the wider community.
“The job was like an apprenticeship for leadership,” he said. “It was a good foundation for the future.”