Meet the Chief and Council for Pays Plat First Nation.
Chief and Council consists of Chief Peter Mushquash, and three councillors; Vanessa Bouchard, Raymond Goodchild, and Darlene Morriseau. Together they oversee the day-to-day administration of the band, and govern the Pays Plat First Nation.
Chief and Council are proud to serve the people of Pays Plat First Nation. Each member of council brings to the table a unique skillset that can guide the community through the many opportunities and challenges that arise in northwestern Ontario. Together, they work to protect the inherent rights of their membership, and progressively lead their community towards a bright future. The election of 2019 marked the start of four-year terms for Pays Plat governance.
Chief Peter Mushquash
Chief Mushquash was born in 1953 in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and grew up in Rossport with his parents and five siblings. Although he moved away from the community when he was young, he continued visiting to spend time with his family that were still residing there.
After completing school in Rossport and Terrace Bay, jobs were at an all-time low. Peter moved to Sioux Lookout for a summer job in 1973, and started a position at the sawmill in Hudson where he worked for nearly two years. During this time he met a young woman, Toni Maskerine, who decided he should stick around for a while longer. Her dad encouraged him to apply for a job with the Canadian National Railway as there was more security there. In 1975 he trained for and became a Brakeman with CN and in 1980 returned to training and qualified as a locomotive Engineer. This career lasted 36 years.
Toni and Peter were married in 1977 and their first born arrived in 1979 (Christopher John). Their daughter followed in 1983 (Christine Ann Marie) and in 1987 another son (Clifford Adam) arrived. His family remained active in the community and life became somewhat hectic. Both Toni and him worked full time while raising their children. Peter curled, and played mens fastball throughout these years (20 years too long). He also ran long distance, training for and running 10 marathons. During the running years he would seek sponsors to support his fund-raising for various causes within the community – Association for Community Living, the Bill George Long Term Care Facility, and the Jaws for Life.
When their children entered elementary school, Peter took an interest in the administration of the education system and ran for and was elected a trustee on the Catholic School Board, a position he held for nine years before moving on to the Public School Board. This is where the “political bug” bit him.
After retiring for four years, he got a call from his cousin, Jacqueline Goodchild. She wanted him to attend a meeting at the Pays Plat Community Hall. She said they “needed help”. He honoured her request and walked right into a nomination meeting. She wanted him to stand for the “Chief”. After a quick conversation with his wife, he let his name stand but lost the election. Two years later he ran again and was successful. He is presently into his second term as Chief and devotes most of his time to the hands-on operation of the reserve. It makes him proud to fulfill Jacquie’s wish and he knows she would be proud.
Peter is proud of the accomplishments they have seen on reserve but at the same time frustrated with the lack of progress on others. Peter continues to work hard, operating through the various levels of government in order to accomplish the goals of the community.
Vanessa is one of three councillors for Pays Plat First Nation, currently serving her third eleceted term for the council. She is in charge of the eduction and economic development portfolios for the community, and sits on the board for Anishinabek Employment and Training Services.
Before she was a councillor, Vanessa worked as a consultation protocol worker, helping to ensure the community was engaged in decisions that could affect the future of their lands.
Raymond was born in Nipigon, Ontario, and moved to Pays Plat where he raised his family. After receiving his Social Services diploma, he spent 34 years working in the field of social services, and spent time as a Family Support Worker beginning in 1994.
Since 2008 Raymond has been involved in the political leadership of Pays Plat First Nation. He has spent 2 years acting as Chief and is currently one of three councillors.
Darlene was born in Rocky Bay First Nation but moved to Pays Plat when she was just young. After her mother’s home up north was lost in a fire, she visited some of her family in Pays Plat and decided to stay.
She is passionate about helping people, and does whatever she can to support the First Nations. At first when her brother suggested she run for council, she didn’t take it seriously. Eventually, she managed to be persuaded, and has now spent the last 12 years as a councillor.
Her portfolio in housing has given her the unique opportunity to help support community growth and development. Since moving to Pays Plat, she has seen the landscape change from only a few houses, to a whole community. Though she was not born in the community, she feels at home in Pays Plat.
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