L to R: Former Prime Minister Paul Martin, Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee, Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher, president Joe Redshaw and (seated) recording-corresponding secretary Joe Dowdall.

Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher, president Joe Redshaw and a number of other union representatives attended a fundraiser recently for the Anishinabek Nation 7th Generation Charity.

The event, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto on Oct. 17, provided an opportunity for corporate and government partners to meet and network with leaders of First Nations communities across Ontario.

More than 200 people attended the event. A business networking reception was followed by a panel discussion on issues of importance to the people of the Anishinabek Nation.

Funds raised from the event will go to scholarships and bursaries and to support education, healthcare and other under-funded services in the 39 Anishinabek communities. The Charity has raised $600,000 since 1999.

Dignitaries attending the event included: Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee; former Prime Minister Paul Martin; Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne; former Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine; Ontario Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Zimmer; and John Tory, former PC Party leader and host of Live Drive on Newstalk 1010.

Local 793 was the only union that had representatives at the event. Grand Council Chief Madahbee sat at the table with Local 793 representatives.

Business manager Gallagher said it was important for Local 793 representatives to be at the event because the union is working to get more people from First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities into training programs at the Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario (OETIO).

“We are working closely with First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities and reaching out to the Aboriginal population to get more youth into our apprenticeship programs and good paying jobs in the construction trades,” he said. “By attending this event we are demonstrating our commitment to work with these communities and Aboriginal leaders.”

During the panel discussion, dignitaries addressed a number of issues, including education and the importance of having a skilled workforce available to fill key positions.

Former Prime Minister Martin complimented the work being done by Local 793 during his remarks.

Martin spoke about some of the things unions like the Operating Engineers are doing and how they are an important part of the fabric of Canada.

Premier Wynne shared her vision on enhancing student success in First Nation communities in Ontario.

Grand Council Chief Madahbee told the audience that First Nations communities support development but only with community control and benefits.

“We have to empower our people … to take control of our lives” and “put in place our way of thinking, our world view,” he said in a story published in Anishinabek News.ca. “We don’t need somebody dictating what we can do and cannot do. We know how to do the job.”

Meanwhile, former Assembly of First Nations National Chief Fontaine said the single most important issue to face Canada is First Nations poverty and how to eradicate it.

“We have to move quickly and … persuasively,” he said in Anishinabek News.ca. “Partnerships are our best option to create a better future for Canada and Aboriginal people.”

The Anishinabek Nation 7th Generation Charity is the official charitable fundraising arm of the Anishinabek Nation. The Charity is committed to improving the quality of life of Anishinabek Nation citizens by providing support where no other funding exists.