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Emma Virginia Wabano declined a nomination to run for the position of Deputy Grand Chief of the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee in order to maintain her focus on a project close to her heart.
Virginia Wabano of Waskaganish is the Coordinator of the Pîpîhcheu (Robin's Nest) Women’s Shelter project for the CBHSSJB, a challenge she accepted in 2016 after being involved in the project since it was first proposed in 2015. Former President of the Cree Women of Eeyou Istchee Association (CWEIA), she is a strong believer in advocating for Indigenous rights for a positive social, economic, cultural, and political well being of all Indigenous peoples. She is an educator with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees.
In explaining her decision to decline the nomination, Virginia stated, “I’m really dedicated to completing what I started: the Women’s Shelter project,” she said. “I’m a very spiritual person, and when I was hired by the Cree Health Board in 2015 to work on this project I felt that this was a path chosen for me by the Creator. My path is to be where I am.”
Under Virginia’s leadership, the CBHSSJB is partnering with Cree Justice and CWEIA to open two residential shelters for Eeyou/Eenou women who are victims of domestic violence and their children. The first shelter is scheduled to open at the end of the summer of 2017 in Waswanipi, and a second shelter will open a few months later in Waskaganish. The shelters will offer culturally-centered programs to help the women heal and regain their autonomy.
Elections will be held this summer for the positions of Grand Chief and Deputy Grand Chief. See the list of candidates.