Konrad Sioui: the great results of the great chef

Konrad Sioui: the great results of the great chef

After 12 years at the head of the Huron-Wendat nation, Konrad Sioui wishes to continue to “promote the positive side of the Aboriginal nations”, which he says is not shown often enough.

Share November 7, 2020 3:00 a.m. Updated at 6:03 a.m. Share Konrad Sioui: the great chef's reportKonrad Sioui: the great results of the great chef

Olivier Bossé Le Soleil POLICY IN QUESTIONS / Konrad Sioui was Grand Chief of the Huron-Wendat nation for 12 years. But last week, the voters of Wendake preferred Rémy Vincent to him. The Aboriginal municipality of Quebec has chosen a new leader for the next four years. Mr. Sioui takes stock of his three mandates and talks about the future, his own and that of his community.

Q How did you react to the defeat? Harder to take when it is so tight (difference of 109 votes in 2025)?

A It's a lot of work and it's the team too, I think of everyone around me.

After three mandates, we ask ourselves the question: “I have done 12 years and can I still be useful to my nation for another mandate?” The answer was: “Absolutely, yes.” There were so many people asking me to continue. And the territorial question was at the heart of my decision.

Q What brought you to politics? Do you come from a politicized family?

A When I was very young, I would go to the community hall when there was advice and I would hide in the little rood screens upstairs to listen to the discussions of the leaders. If I heard things that touched the family, I would tell my mom about it!

I have always been very close to politics and at home, the family has always been at the heart of our nation's politics. My uncle Claude was the Grand Chief (1984-86) and many of my ancestors, our uncles, aunts, my parents and their families were involved. We have a long history of battles, territorial issues and law. I was brought up in this.

Q What is your main achievement as a great chef?

A The question of territorial rights and our national rights.

When I arrived in 2008, the General Agreement in Principle (EPOG) had already been signed since 2004 with three Innu communities. This agreement included the northern part of our national territory. And we really did not agree that our territory should be included in an agreement in which we had not participated.

It is a feat of arms! We prevented the agreement in principle from being achieved, because we could not agree to see a huge part of our territory being transferred to another nation without our consent.

Not because we are against our Innu brothers and sisters! I married an Innu and our children are Innu-Wendats. But these communities simply did not have the right to act in this way and take over our territory.

We went to federal court to assert our rights and she blamed the federal and provincial governments. And they created a discussion mechanism to correct the error and recognize the rights of the Huron-Wendat nation on its territory. You can't take someone's house when it's theirs!

The reason I wanted to continue for a fourth term was precisely to finalize this file.

Q If you could go back in time, what would you say to the 2008 Konrad Sioui, who has just been elected Grand Chef?

A To defend our rights and take an interest in the economic development of my nation.

With Investissement Premieres Nations du Québec (IPNQ), we first of all set up the hotel (First Nations Museum). When I arrived in 2008, the hotel had only just opened and we took over operations. We included everyone from the hotel, the museum and the tourism industry as a whole.

Also, many of our people were asking for land to start a business. Economic development had been stagnant for a long time. We took the initiative and identified everything we were able to find in terms of industrial and commercial land to start from businesses. We have launched some 20 good businesses, which have created jobs for our nation.

It was also necessary to nationalize certain parts of economic development in order to generate income for the nation. Because when we just rely on federal transfer payments, we are poor! Many communities have just that as their sole source of funding.

I implemented this notion of finding independent income. Today, we may not be that rich, but we are able to organize and have income that allows us to get through and give ourselves health care programs and services. quality for everyone.

Q The best advice for your successor, Rémy Vincent?

R Protect our territories, protect our rights. Surround yourself with competent people. Also pay attention to the treatment of our civil service, we have good people.

Friend advice. We worked together on the board for two years, so he saw me go.

Q How do you judge the absence of representatives of the First Nations in Quebec politics?

A You don't have to be a member of the National Assembly. We are nations. We have our own political entities, our own councils. It's not bad to have someone (in parliament), but it's not essential.

As long as MM. Legault and Trudeau say that the relations are from nation to nation, we work from government to government. I don't have to be inside their government to move my government's issues forward.

Q You are a fit, 67 year old young man not ready for retirement. What awaits you next?

A To share my experience, my negotiating skills, my positive attitude in life. Participate in forums, give conferences, important boards of directors.

Promote the positive side of our nations, which we do not see often enough. Participate in the education of this society. Refuse as much as possible to be seen as victims. We are able to demonstrate that we are extremely competent.

Q With elections for the other three levels of government in the next two years, are you considering running as a candidate?

A No! (laughs) Régis [Labeaume] was the first to call me to console me [after the defeat]. You have to respect yourself, even if you don't always have the same ideas and opinions. Basically, we work in the same region and for the same interests. But no, I didn't think I'd show up anywhere. And to run in a municipality, you have to live there.

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