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Poitras, Fayant in the running for new Métis government

Two area residents are vying for the opportunity to be a voice for Métis District 12, St. Paul-Cold Lake, in the upcoming election for a district captain in the first ever Otipemisiwak Métis Government that will transition from the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA).
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LAKELAND – Two area residents are vying for the opportunity to be a voice for Métis District 12, St. Paul-Cold Lake, in the upcoming election for a district captain in the first ever Otipemisiwak Métis Government that will transition from the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA). Of the 22 districts across the province, only District 12 and District 20, Athabasca, have multiple candidates for the district captain post, with two other districts, Calgary Elbow and Wabasca-Desmarais naming their district captains by acclamation.

Bernie Poitras

He’s been the voice of countless chuckwagon race broadcasts and junior hockey livestreams, and now Bernie Poitras of Elk Point hopes to become the voice of Otipemisiwak District 12 as a district captain.

Poitras’ Métis roots go back to grandfather Pierre Poitras, who sat on Louis Riel’s Provisional Council, and great-grandfather Laurent Garneau, a captain in Riel’s army who became a provincial politician, then an entrepreneur in Edmonton before settling in St. Paul des Métis in 1901.

Poitras feels the Métis Nation of Alberta “has done a lot for my kids and other kids, in education, health and sports” over the years and that with the transition, the benefits will continue to increase.

With this in mind, Poitras became part of the Self Government Transition Committee formed in 2021 with two representatives from each of the six regions across Alberta plus two youth representatives and chaired by MNA President Audrey Poitras, now retiring after 27 years of leadership.

During his time on that committee, Poitras “sat with politicians and highly educated people,” but feels the new government needs “grassroots people,” which he says is the role of a district captain.

District 12 covers a large territory, from north of Cold Lake to south of Wainwright, and from the Saskatchewan border to Smoky Lake and Victoria Settlement, and Poitras feels some of the district, such as Lloydminster and the Wainwright area needs more attention.

“I don’t have the answers to everything,” he says, “but I will find the answers people need.”

Tanya Fayant

Tanya Fayant of Fishing Lake is a proud to be a Red River descendant on both sides of her family, with her mother originally from the Battleford area and her father’s family coming to Fishing Lake from Batoche and Cypress Hills in 1934.

Fayant says she has “always felt the need to serve my community” and has done so in many ways. She is the Ward 5 trustee for Northlands School Division, and in the past has been the Métis Settlement’s Justice Worker, working with Children’s Services and the RCMP, then transferred to the Cross-Judicial Liaison, working with students, before becoming the Settlement’s Director of Natural Resources, supervising consultation, harvesting, oil and gas and land and membership. Her final role with the settlement was as its administrator, an even more challenging role as it was during COVID.

Those roles followed obtaining a diploma in Petroleum Engineering Tech, from NAIT, working for Canadian Natural as an operator for more than a decade, earning her 4th Class Power Engineering ticket and becoming co-owner of an oilfield trucking company. Now she’s back in school online, working toward a Bachelor of Business Administration with focus on accounting.

Fayant feels the biggest challenge for a district captain will be formulating bylaws during this first year of the new government, “and I have the background conducive to that.” She also sees a need for members to have equal access to programs and information across the district in order to become more self-sustaining, “and I’m up for the challenge.”


About the Author: Vicki Brooker

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