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MATAWA FIRST NATIONS MANAGEMENT INC. ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING — Delegates at this corporate meeting pull up in pick-up trucks, not limos. Leaders sit at the table with elders and youth rather than aides or shareholders. No one dresses in suits or ties; they wear running shoes and ball caps.
The annual gathering of the Matawa First Nations Tribal Council doesn’t follow the conventions of the usual corporate annual general meeting, nor the formalities of government sessions.
During a sacred opening ceremony, elders load long pipes with tobacco and puff out billows of smoke as three men and a boy pound a powwow drum. Songs from time immemorial reverberate through the open doors of a rundown community centre where kids play ball hockey in the gym.
At the top of the agenda: How to assert a unified stance on mining development that encroaches on traditional territories in this part of northern Ontario, home to a bed of lucrative mineral deposits that has been dubbed the Ring of Fire.