Newly elected chief of Cowessess First Nation speaks with Eagle Feather News
- Kerry Benjoe
Erica Beaudin has spent most of her life as an Indigenous advocate and servant of the people within the City of Regina, but after some careful thought she decided it was time to go home.
On April 24th, at approximately 8:30 p.m. Beaudin took the oath of office to become the new chief of Cowessess First Nation.
She admits it took a few days for it to fully sink in.
“It wasn’t until I addressed the FHQ (File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council) chiefs through Zoom and they asked me about a transition plan,” said Beaudin. “It was only then at that moment that I realized my life was going to change.”
Prior to becoming chief, she was the executive director of the Regina Treaty/Status Indian Services (RTSIS) a position she held since 2007. Under Beaudin’s leadership RTSIS went from a staff of 20 people with less than $2 million in contribution agreements to one with 100 employees and more than $10 million annually in contribution agreements.
Beaudin had no ambition to enter politics and was satisfied with being a helper.
“For my professional career it has been from a technical or an advocacy position or a policy technical role,” she said. “That was how I thought I was going to spend the rest of my professional life.”
However, about 18 months ago that all changed.
“I had been approached several times by Cowessess community members asking me if I would consider making a change in my career and coming home,” said Beaudin. “It was very much a tough decision to make. I love the helping community of Regina. I love our organization. We have a very strong organization and from my perspective we have built the most qualified Indigenous and allied group (both) frontline and professional people there is.”
Although it’s her first political role, she has been mentored by many strong leaders such as Marie-Anne DayWalker-Pelletier who holds the title as Canada’s longest serving chief.
The former chief publicly supported Beaudin’s political bid in a Facebook video post.
“Erica has a real soft heart, a very loving and caring heart and our people need that at the chief’s level,” said DayWalker-Pelletier. “It’s not about Erica, it’s about leading the people and working for the people. Certainly, it will not go to her head, she will lead.”
Beaudin spent the first 10 days on the job meeting with her council and staff to get a better understanding of where things are as well as connecting with Cowessess members to find out what they want the leadership to focus on.
The First Nation follows its own Election Act, and it has a residency clause, which means Beaudin has moved home and she couldn’t be happier.
“I am living on our family land where my grandparents built their house and where our family has resided for generations,” she said. “It’s been an absolutely wonderful feeling to wake up on the same land that gave me so much comfort and love and joy as a child growing up.”
Beaudin is looking forward to the next four years of work.
Former Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme announced he was not seeking re-election in February; he was first elected in 2016. He has since been named the chair of the federal government’s new Residential School Documents Committee,
RTSIS will also be seeking a new executive director to replace Beaudin.
The official inauguration of the chief and council takes place on May 27.