First-ever female chief sworn in on Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation

Roberta Soo-Oyewaste is "humbled and honoured" to be the first-ever female chief of the First Nation she has lived on for over 20 years. File / Global News

Beaming with joy, Roberta Soo-Oyewaste is ready to hit the ground running as the Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation’s first-ever female chief.

She was sworn in last week and now joins a majority female council.

“I am truly excited to be working with four other councilwomen, as well as two men,” she said. “We all come with great experience, education and just a whole lot of knowledge.”

That mostly-women council is something she says has advantages for the community.

“We’re multi-taskers, the matriarchs, the backbone of families, and we want to work together as a team to move forward for our nation and our children,” she said.

“It will definitely take a different perspective. We all come from a very different background, but we all have experience in dealing with youth and those hard social issues. That will bring many ideas to the table to present back to the people.”

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She was sworn in on Friday after ousting the previous long-standing chief by just six votes. She says her win signified a need for change in that community.

“I worked really hard. I campaigned and visited a lot of people,” she said. “To hear their ideas, for them to hear my ideas, and wanting that change and building that healthier community for our youth and generations to come is important to me and to them.”

Soo-Oyewaste says she feels deeply connected to the community, as she’s been living on the First Nation for 20 years. It’s also where she grew up and raised her four sons. Her connection is one part of why she’s so motivated to better the lives of people living there.

The Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation lies in the Qu’Appelle Valley, 10 kilometres west of Fort Qu’Appelle. File / Global News

“We are going to strategize with our community needs and develop a plan of action, which may include economic development opportunities for training and employment for our people. For reconciliation and healing for our youth, so that we have a brighter future for them and future generations.

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“Improving communication is really important as well,” Soo-Oyewaste added.

The previous chief, Roger Redman, was impeached in 2013, with Soo-Oyewaste winning an election of new chief and council on March 16 of that year. The former council and chief did not recognize her standing within that role, and she was relinquished of her role.

Redman won an annual award from the Taxpayer Federation for most tax dollars wasted in 2013.

-with files from the Canadian Press

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