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Landry juggles leadership roles

Wants to make most of village's influence

Dave Sullivan
Northern News Services

Kakisa (Dec 03/01) - Allan Landry illustrates on a napkin why the village of Kakisa can and should flex muscle out of proportion to its tiny size in the self-government movement. This time of year it has just between 30 and 40 residents.

NNSL Photo

Allan Landry: Behind Kakisa's rising clout. - Dave Sullivan/NNSL Photo

He draws out traditional boundary lines of different trappers that cover large swaths of land from the Mackenzie River to the Cameron Hills. Spread out like wheel spokes from the village, the trapping areas are still used to sustain many families. That's why questions of land use and control are especially important in this area, Landry believes - the land remains critical here for earning a living.

"The traditional lifestyle is more active here than other communities," says the 44-year-old rising leader.

Because of that, "we're starting to exert our own self-government, regardless of the Deh Cho process."

Landry is in charge of oil and gas development, an initiative new to Kakisa. He's also front and centre in feelers the village has out, looking at the area's logging potential.

"I was honoured they gave me that," he says of the oil and gas responsibility. "We can't let other people make the decisions that affect our lives." He says he's been learning plenty about interpreting complex jargon found in documents submitted to environmental review boards.

Landry also chairs Deh Cho's education board, in addition to the health and social services board.

Raised in Hay River until age five, Landry was then sent to residential schools in Fort Simpson, Fort Smith and Yellowknife for the next decade. He doesn't know why he was moved around so much. "We weren't privileged to (get) that information." As for his treatment at the schools, "It wasn't all that bad...depending on how you look at abuse."

At 15, "I decided to go to work," and took advantage when slashing jobs opened up on the Mackenzie Highway project in 1973.

Landry only got as far as Grade 11, but that hasn't stopped him from being a strong advocate of education.

But a few years ago he and wife Ruby painfully watched as their son walked out of Grade 10.

Landry was living in Fort Providence in 1981 when he met and married Ruby Simba, from Kakisa.

The Landry's 20 year-old son Henry is now helping with Alan's construction business. Daughter Rolanda is 10.

Like many parents, the couple "learned lots" from raising their first child, and are trying some different approaches they hope will better encourage Rolanda to stay in school.

As school board chair he believes good parenting is key to keeping children in school. On parenting and issues like alcoholism he says "we're still facing problems that go back years."

"We've been working on making changes for 50 years but we're making headway. We have to keep educating parents on why education is good for their kids."

Landry doesn't rule out running for a higher office some day, but seems satisfied with his role so far.

"Things I wanted to be involved with as a young man, I'm doing today." He says he's always taken an interest in social services, and even looks at his home-building in a social context.

A recent Deh Cho First Nation newsletter singles out Landry for "his dedication and hard work and never worrying about himself."

"It's people like Allan with positive attitudes that show you can accomplish anything you set to do."