Isaac Twinn steps in: ‘steep learning curve’ for new Sawridge Chief

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

It took two tries, but Isaac Twinn is now the duly elected chief of the Sawridge First Nation. He takes over in that position from his older brother Roland Twinn, who had been chief for quite a few years.

He couldn’t tell us what the voting numbers were, just that “it was close.”

Joining Isaac Twinn on the new council are Sam Twinn and Jeanine Potskin.

Twinn is the son of former chief and Canadian senator Walter Twinn, and Walter’s second wife Catherine.

Twinn is quite young – he just turned 31 – and is still working on an advanced law degree, at Columbia University in New York. He got his first law degree at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, following a bachelor’s degree in native studies from the University of Alberta. The Columbia degree is in international systems, which he says, is “useful for my interest in the rights of Indigenous peoples.”

Asked what being chief has been like so far, Twinn says: “It’s a big job, a steep learning curve.”

The Sawridge is known for being small in numbers, but big in economic clout, locally. Its status in the Slave Lake area as one of the biggest employers is not the same as it once was, having sold off the hotel, apartments and the downtown mall several years ago. The truckstop – now known as the Sawridge Travel Centre – remains a fixture on the local business scene. The Sawridge Group has hotels in various locations around Alberta, among other business interests. One of those is alternative energy, Twinn says.

When it comes to his goals as chief, Twinn says community and cultural development are high priority items for him. Also, “forward-thinking economic development.”

Having said that, Twinn adds that whatever he does will be “in collaboration with the Sawridge people,” along with his fellow council members. “It is a community process.”

The former chief was noted for pioneering a new relationship with the Town of Slave Lake and the M.D. of Lesser Slave River, called the Regional Tri-Council. Asked how he sees that, Twinn says meeting with the mayor and the reeve is one of the things on his list.

“That’s important work that they do,” he says.

Twinn’s term as chief runs for four years.

Chief Isaac Twinn

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