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Bone gets second term as Sioux Valley chief

·3 min read

Chief Jennifer Bone has been re-elected to lead Sioux Valley Dakota Nation for a second term.

Bone was elected Thursday, along with new councillors Tim Whitecloud, Jonathan Bell and Michelle Rosmus, Russell (Rusty) Taylor, and re-elected Coun. Anthony (Tony) Tacan.

She is eager to work with the newly elected council, as it will be a collaboration with a new set of faces and many first-time council members.

“I’m really anxious and excited to get back to business,” Bone said.

Bone said it feels good to have been elected for a second term, and she is looking forward to working on behalf of the community.

A key concern moving forward is hearing councillors’ thoughts and visions for the community and how they can collectively come together to achieve their goals.

Bone said she wants to see the council working together on a strategic planning session as soon as possible, along with engaging in consultation with elders, youth and other community members regarding the future of the nation.

Top priorities at Sioux Valley include the ongoing work in the area of self-government, along with developing a unique Child and Family Services law.

A law has been in the works for a number of years, Bone said, and she is anticipating moving into a community consultation phase to engage with Sioux Valley members and young families to hear their thoughts around Child and Family Services.

Mental health and housing also remain ongoing priorities at Sioux Valley.

“We’ll be looking at those too and how we can come together and come up with a solution as a community,” Bone said.

Sioux Valley called a state of emergency on Oct. 10, 2020, due to what Bone described as a mental health crisis in the community after multiple deaths by suicides were reported.

The conversation around mental health in Sioux Valley has changed since that time, and a general understanding of what has led to the crisis has occurred since she first took office, Bone said. People are becoming more open and willing to talk about mental health and wellness, she said, but more importantly what Sioux Valley can do better when it comes to offering supports and improving all aspects for the community.

She added securing a healing lodge for the nation remains a top priority for chief and council.

A healing centre or treatment centre is essential for the well-being of the community, Bone said. Establishing a dedicated healing space for Dakota people struggling with addictions or mental health will be critical in Sioux Valley moving forward.

Bone wants to see how Sioux Valley can move the project along and ensure conversations begin regarding breaking ground on the healing lodge as a council and community.

“This is how we improve mental health here in the community, and this also goes along with addictions and all the social problems,” Bone said.

She plans on fostering community connections in Sioux Valley and building on the momentum gained by new recently completed projects, including the Lance White Jr. Skatepark, Sioux Valley outdoor gathering space and community centre.

It has been critical facilitating opportunities to gather as a community, Bone said, because during COVID-19 the inability to unite in person fuelled mental health issues for many residents.

“That was one of the things we saw with COVID was the need for a place to gather outdoors and providing space for our community members to enjoy and having gatherings socially distanced or outside,” Bone said.

She added the uptake in vaccinations and easing of restrictions have had positive effects in the community, and she does not foresee facing the same challenges as when the virus first struck in 2020.

“One of our main priorities is to keep community engagement and hearing from the community what their thoughts are,” Bone said.


» Twitter: @The_ChelseaKemp

Chelsea Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun

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