Saskatchewan Leaders in Profile: Chief Matthew Peigan, Groundbreaker

Chief Matthew Peigan. Photo by Shane Luhning.

Chief Matthew T. Peigan is Chief of the Pasqua First Nation. He was first elected in 1993-2001 and again in 2011, currently serving a sixth consecutive term. Upon his initial election in 1993, Chief Peigan was the youngest serving Chief in Canada at just 26.

In 2013 Chief Peigan and his Council successfully negotiated the Pasqua Lake Flooding Agreement settlement. This agreement realized $20.6 million in compensation for the Pasqua First Nation. Again in 2018, Chief Peigan and his Council successfully negotiated and settled a large land claim—Pasqua’s 1906 Surrender Claim. The settlement of this claim provided Pasqua First Nation with $145 million in compensation. Both settlements are secured in a Trust Fund with an annual determined amount which is used for the benefit of the Pasqua First Nation.

Chief Peigan currently sits on several boards including the All Nations Healing Hospital, Indigenous Gaming Regulators Inc., FHQ Developments Ltd., and the White Raven Healing Centre. He also served six First Nations for five years pertaining to Indigenous child and family services programs and represented the First Nations at the provincial and federal levels addressing policy and procedures of the Indigenous children and families.

Active in industry, Chief Peigan is a strong advocate for environmental, air and water protection measures. He demonstrates this commitment by lending his strategic mind to the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council Lands, Resources, and Environmental Stewardship Chiefs Committee, as well as to the Federation of Saskatchewan Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Lands and Resources Committee. Chief Peigan is a member of the Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee (IAMC) for the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project and was nominated to sit as a member of the Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC) by the Assembly of First Nations. This appointment provides advisory services to the Canada Energy Regulator.

Chief Peigan is committed to both his home First Nation and to the advancement of all First Nations.

What are the most important qualities for a successful leader?

“First Nation Leaders must have the whole Nation’s best interest at heart. Many leaders forget about those individuals that don’t support them. When I was first elected in 1993, I was told by Pasqua Elders: “Chiefs have to help their people no matter if those individuals didn’t support you. Chiefs have to care for the whole Nation. It’s a tough task as Chief but doing it right will show through support by your people.” I have been doing my utmost from the guidance of the Elders and sometimes you have to say no which is the toughest part of the job.”

Who do you look up to for inspiration?

“I look at the children for inspiration. Leaders have to mold, shape, shift and support the youth of today in order for them to become the leaders of tomorrow. With the support of Council, we try our hardest to support Pasqua children and youth in their endeavours which includes education, sports, recreation and their goals.”

What one thing makes you most proud?

“My family is what I am most proud of. I have been with my missus for almost 36 years. We have two boys aged 34 and 14.”

Seeing Tomorrow Today