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Nelson Toulouse Elected as Sagamok's New Gimaa with 11 Member Council
Posted: Aug 16, 2018

"We are all in this together.  We will get it done."  

Nelson Toulouse Elected as Sagamok's New Gimaa with 11 Member Council

August 16, 2018     Sagamok Anishnawbek          by Robert Porter


Sagamok members went to the polls yesterday to cast ballots to elect their new leadership for the 2018-2020 term.  Up for grabs was 1 Chief and 12 Councillors.  

Nelson Toulouse brought home a decided victory with a total of 258 votes installing him as Sagamok's new Gimaa.  Carol Eshkakogan received 169 votes for the position, followed by Rhonda Stoneypoint-Trudeau with 130 votes.  88 votes went to Rhea Assinewe, 46 to Peter Owl Sr. and 8 to Renee Owl. 

Of the 706 ballots cast for the position of Chief, 7 were rejected. 

Elected as Councillor are 12 members: 

Toulouse, Angus             (314 votes)

Toulouse, Sheldon           (284 votes)

Solomon, Lawrence         (281 votes)

Toulouse, Nelson             (241 votes)

Southwind, Edward          (225 votes)

Rivers, Brenda                 (221 votes)

Abitong, Anna Marie         (217 votes)

Bennett, Arnelda              (208 votes)

Trudeau, Harvey              (205 votes)

Hardisty, Jessie                (204 votes)

Toulouse, Kenneth           (200 votes)

Toulouse, Craig                (295 votes)

Of the 706 ballots cast for the position of Councillor, 13 were rejected. 

Polls opened at 9:00am at Sagamok's Ednakmagad (Millenium) Centre on August 15th and closed at 8:00pm.  

Under INAC election rules, as Nelson ran for both the positions of Chief and of Councillor and won both positions, he is declared the winner of both.  This does not mean that the candidate next on the list with the highest number of votes is declared to have been elected.  Nelson has been elected as both Chief and as Councillor, though he cannot fill his role as a Councillor as a voting member of Council. 

With these INAC election rules, this translates into a Council of 11 members. 


The newly elected Chief and Council was official at the moment the final numbers were read and posted in the Ednakmagad Centre by Election Officer Vaughn Johnston.  The results were posted to Sagamok's social media channels immediately following their release. 

The outgoing leadership had been led by Chief Paul Eshkakogan (Gimaa for 12 years through 6 elections, three of which saw him acclaimed).  The Council was composed of Anna Marie Abitong, Arnelda Bennett, Adrienne Eshkakogan, Roger Jones, Brenda Rivers, Lawrence Solomon, Edward Southwind, Rhonda Stoneypoint, Angus Toulouse, Kenneth Toulouse, Mary Ann Trudeau and Jessie Hardisty. 


Words from the new Gimaa

The crowd of spectators on hand watching the scrutinizing and counting of ballots erupted in applause for their new leadership and expectations for the future when the final numbers were posted just before 2am this morning.    

The newly elected Gimaa told the crowd that the community should be proud of its elections, saying "We conducted ourselves with much respect, lots of respect, and that's what I saw out there when I talked to people, and the people that ran.  Everyone was respectful." 

Nelson thanked his daughters Michelle and Cheryl, as well as the families and helpers that have provided him with help and support during his campaign.    

He congratulated all the new council members who have also been elected to leadership, saying, "We've got stuff to do."

He says that he's heard a number of issues from people along his campaign, some fairly easy to address and some that are going to need everyone in the community to come together to address. 

"We can do it." 

Nelson's his life and career journeys have taken him to a great many other communities, bringing him a great appreciation for his own community and its people.  He acknowledges that Sagamok has its problems, but its strength is its people. 

"We have to be a little more louder and prouder of ourselves.  We have to say it to each other more."

He says that when visitors, like representatives of other governments and industry come to the Sagamok community, they express amazement of the progressive nature of the community and its people.  He says it makes them want to invest in the people of Sagamok. 

"We are all in this together.  We will get it done."  Nelson is optimistic his community can meet any of the challenges it faces or may potentially face in the future, saying that communication is key to addressing the community's issues. 

"I'm a big believer in communication.  I want to communicate with everyone as much as possible." 

He says that while he commits to improving the flow of information "in language that everyone can understand" to community members. 

"We are talking with each other here," he says, "not to anyone else on the outside, so we'll make sure it's given to you in ways that you will understand." 

He adds that addressing problems together requires a two-way relationship.  "If you get it, you got to read it".   

In his campaign materials, the new Gimaa thanks previous Chiefs and Councils for the work they've done, committing to ensuring that their good works will continue.  He does not intend to "make change for the sake of making change," instead opting for an approach that "evaluates programs and projects in a practical and unbiased manner."

The arena Nelson is faced with leading the Council this 2018-2020 term is a provincial government that "doesn't like us" and a federal government that is friendly. 

Looking forward, he says that new federal language legislation is expected with a currently-unspecified amount of zhoonia attached to it, though notes that it will take time to see before the federal dollars start to flow bringing with it resources to support Sagamok's language needs. 

Anishinaabemowin and its vitality in the Sagamok community will be a priority for him.   

He says he's also looking forward to engaging in negotiations within the Robinson-Huron Treaty Annuities litigation case.  "It's looking really, really good for us and they're talking big money."

Nelson wants to be prepared to deal with the court's decision. "The next phase of this litigation is negotiating those amounts."  He says he to look forward to future Treaty Days where "you're not going to go there for four bucks.  You're going to go there for some money" as he snaps his fingers for effect.   

Highlights from the New Gimaa's Election Campaign  

Nelson says he wants to work on with the community involve creating good jobs in Sagamok so that people want to live and work here with attention put to job creation and business development, finding ways of plugging economic leakages from leaving the community, and finding ways of addressing transportation barriers for community members. 

He made commitments in his campaign materials concerning the landfill, promising to "explore our options and deal with our waste respectfully" by learning from the examples of other First Nation communities. 

He also offers a way forward in addressing the opioid problem with a commitment for a treatment centre in the community to service community needs, and with a view towards prevention, calling upon all community resources to fight the problem. 

Concerning cannabis, Nelson thinks that Sagamok needs to assume full control of the coming enacted Bill C-45 The Cannabis Act in October by developing a law that will determine how the community will deal with the sale and distribution of cannabis in the Sagamok community.  "We need to be prepared and plan carefully."


Want to know more about Nelson Toulouse, newly elected Gimaa of Sagamok Anishnawbek?  

  • Ginoozhe Doodem (Pike Clan)
  • Clean and sober for 29 years
  • Over 40 years of experience in administration, governance, leadership and facilitation
  • Proud father of 6 children, grandfather of 5 and great-grandfather to 2 boys
  • Past Chief of Sagamok Anishnawbek serving one term from 1990 - 1992 
  • In recent years, Nelson has been a member of Sagamok Justice and Governance committees.  He says that he appreciates the policies in place in the Sagamok organization and understands the sharp line between politics and administration. 
  • During Nelson's past term as Chief from 1990-1992, under his leadership,

Sagamok exercised its jurisdiction by dropping the imposed name of Spanish River #5 given to it by Canada in favour of claiming its traditional name of Sagamok.  It was at this time that Sagamok's logo that is so recognizable and cherished was developed.  It is still in use today. 

Sagamok took control of its traditional lands when Sagamok community members marched into the Fort LaCloche tract, held ceremony and Nelson read the declaration that took control over those ancient lands back from Canada. 

Sagamok turned its attention to policing and justice issues, resulting in working together with three other communities to see the establishment of the Anishinabek Police Services. 

Sagamok forced the province's Ministry of Natural Resources to the discussion table after lifting provincially licensed fishing nets from its fishing waters on the shores of Lake Huron.  He says not only did the province come to the table, it created the understanding and respect for Sagamok's fisheries, forcing non-Indigenous hunters to find other areas to harvest their catches. 

  • Other experience: 
  • Administrator, Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the North Shore Tribal Council
  • Deputy Grand Council Chief for the Anishinabek Nation
  • Chief Commissioner of the Mushkegowuk Onkwehon:we Language Commission of Ontario (continues)
  • Member of the Assembly of First Nation (AFN)'s Chiefs Committee on Languages