|Richard Zohr, Chief and ANR Representative|
BACKGROUND HISTORY OF
CHIEF RICHARD OSBOURNE ZOHR
As of the early 80’s at the young age of 18, Richard Zohr was a dominant figure in the native community.He was introduced to the Bonnechere Algonquin First Nation (BAFN) then known as the Bonnechere Metis Association, by his grandmother, Bernadette Bailey, an Elder of the community.
For a number of years, Richard volunteered, first as a board member and then as chairman in pursuit of acquiring essential social and economical services to assist the lifestyle of the members of the Algonquin Community.
In the years that followed he was successful in developing adequate housing and repair services, employment and training programs, continued education, youth services, environmental surveys, economic development initiatives, and health services.
As community needs further developed it was imperative that the proper institutions were created, in doing so Richard established the Bonnechere Training Institute to develop and implement training services for the Bonnechere Algonquin First Nation.
Under Richard’s leadership, the BAFN integrated into many different communities and has had its office in Pembroke, Killaloe, Petawawa. and presently in Renfrew, Ontario.Having located to these different areas, we made an impact as we provided what services we could such as, the visitor’s information booth and the beautiful covered bridge that was constructed in Killaloe and wouldn’t be possible without the services of the BAFN.
The BAFN once grew to a staff of 13 and now has a membership of 1200 with a well developed political structure and heads of families known as the Elders’ Circle, which has recorded extensive geological and in-depth history of its community dating back to the early 1600’s.
Over many years Richard struggled to give the community back its inherent rights to harvest food and to provide a social and economic structure to sustain the community over the next decade and well into the future.In doing so he struggled to have his community become part of the Algonquin Land Claim and that whole political process.After 10 years of lobbying and personal hardship involved with exercising the community’s inherent rights, we were finally granted a seat on the Algonquin Nation Tribal Council (ANTC), the governing body negotiating the Algonquin Land Claim where Richard now sits as the political representative for the BAFN.
It was also apparent that a much broader approach was needed to be taken to resolve the political needs of non-status communities in general.Richard consulted with numerous native communities throughout the province of Ontario to establish the Alliance of Aboriginal Communities. It is a political provincial organization designed to improve the quality of life for non-status Aboriginal people based on the concept of self-determination and is dedicated to the healing, re-building and strengthening or our communities. As a spokesperson Richard has organized the Alliance communities to work collectively to strive to instill the importance of rediscovery of our traditional wisdom and knowledge and encourage community development.
Richard also helped to create and sits on the board of the National Aboriginal Historical & Educational Foundation, a charitable foundation to reduce child and family poverty, aid the homeless, and also work to reduce alcohol/drug addiction and suicides in areas of the nation that are in desperate need and are isolated from government services.
Richard’s 20 years of service has resulted in bringing the Bonnechere Algonquin First Nation and its’ members to the forefront as a highly respected community within Renfrew County and the Algonquin Land Claim process. This also can be said of his service to the members of the Alliance of Aboriginal Communities, and the National Aboriginal Historical And Educational Foundation.Richard has performed his duties with an embrace and dedication for his native culture and the respect of his people.