There has been a change in the management structure of K’atlodeeche First Nation (KFN) – there will no longer be a band manager.
Catherine Heron was the band manager until a two-year contract – involving a funding arrangement with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) – ended in early November.
Heron noted she had the option of staying with KFN as part of the initial agreement under which she was hired, but she decided to head back south to Edmonton, where she previously lived for many years.
“I would have stayed, but I actually miss the south,” she said. “I miss actually doing my Zumba. There’s a lot of things that I miss that I was doing down south.”
While Hay River has Zumba – a popular exercise program – Heron noted she did a lot of travelling for KFN and could not commit to any type of Zumba classes here.
“I have a great networking system in Edmonton and I also curl in Edmonton, as well,” she added. “There’s just different things that I would like to get back into that I did when I was in Edmonton.”
Heron noted she previously worked as a paralegal in the Alberta capital, and will be looking at getting back into that career.
She was KFN’s band manager since January of 2018. Previously to that, the position didn’t exist.
Debbie Miller, the CEO with K’atlodeeche First Nation, said the organization is not looking for a new band manager.
“Certainly the role of chief executive officer incorporated some of the activities of a band manager, and I think some of the band manager responsibilities incorporated some of the activities of the chief executive officer,” said Miller. “So there is a melding.”
The CEO said the First Nation will be determining in the coming months if another form of supportive position or positions may be needed for the organization.
“I would not necessarily call it a band manager,” she said.
Miller praised Heron’s contributions, noting she helped outside organizations and agencies understand how to work with a First Nation, and helped obtain funding for KFN.
Chief April Martel also praised Heron, noting she worked long hours and dedicated herself to learning new things.
“She worked really well with everyone,” said Martel. “She basically took on a big role for such a short time. I’m really proud of her for taking on a big responsibility and trying to complete all tasks.”
Heron was employed by K’atlodeeche First Nation under a contract in which MACA paid most of her salary for two years as she trained to become a band manager. While working, she also took classroom and online training from MACA’s School of Community Government.
An eventual return to the North is possible, said Heron, who is a member of KFN. “Because I also am contemplating starting my own consulting business and coming back up working with different organizations at some point in time.”