Episode 3 of the pihtikwê podcast: Dr. Carol Hopkins – Culturally Based Means We Start From Culture First

Brent Bissaillion

Board Member

Intelligent, forward-thinking, and always mindful of the grandfather teachings, Brent Bissaillion is an articulate, two-spirit 31-year-old serving a second term as Chief of Serpent River First Nation. Having a population of approximately 1200 citizens with 370 living on the reserve, this community is located on the north shore of Lake Huron, it is a member of the Anishinabek Nation, and one of seven communities represented by The North Shore Tribal Council.

Chief Brent Bissaillion received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Government from the University of Western Ontario (2008), during which time he was president of the Indigenous Students’ Association. He also studied Indigenous Governance at Confederation College in Thunder Bay (2013). Prior to running for political office, Brent worked as the Community Development Manager for Serpent River First Nation.

Ensuring elder welfare, removing barriers to culturally appropriate education, job opportunities and health care equity, embracing environmental stewardship through land reclamation while mitigating the devastation on Mother Earth resulting from climate change, and invigorating First Nation culture and pride through Bring Our Children Back and Narratives Inc. initiatives, Brent feels a personal and spiritual responsibility to purposefully engage with federal, provincial and even First Nations governments to right the historical wrongs and demand focus in getting things done beyond status quo.

For example, as a member of the North Shore Tribal Council that represents the interests of about 5,000 citizens located between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury, Brent is actively involved in the fight for adequate social and health programs by promoting Niigaaniin Services, an Indigenous-led body that would provide a mobile “one-stop shop” for members who could not otherwise easily obtain Service Ontario programs.

Chief Brent also envisions a return of governance to the people in a traditional form – based on the roles that clans had in communities prior to colonization. “Even through changing times, the clan system remained strong and was a key to the strength of the people, their collective identity and their unity, while at the same time maintaining the dignity, integrity and personal identity of the individual.”

Although small in size, Serpent River First Nation’s Chief Bissaillion thinks big for the sake of the entire First Nation agenda; “I feel that a lot of the issues that pertain to indigenous people are relatable to a lot of other minorities and marginalized folks”.

Brent Bissaillion is a trustee on the Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board (HSCDSB). Being a St. Mary’s alumnus, Brent provides a strong voice for all students, and in particular, Indigenous students entrusted to this institution. He is passionate about student achievement, community, communication, diversity and inclusion.

He is also chairperson of the Mamaweswen, North Shore Tribal Council, Maamwesying, North Shore Community Health Services, and Benbowapka Treatment Centre.