Chief Roderick Francis - Pictou Landing Band
He Made the Difference
A Tribute to a Hero - Chief Roderick (Roddie) Francis
After Pictou Landing Band’s Chief, the late Raymond Francis, dropped the Boat Harbour legal claim in my lap in 1981, and then retired, Roddie Francis succeeded him in the position. Over the years, by working closely with them, I got to know both men very well, and grew to consider them valued friends. The prime reason that I accepted both as valued friends was that I appreciate people who have no pretensions, what you see is what you get. Both men fit into that category - their word was their bond, and both had at heart the best interests of the Pictou Landing Band Members. I trusted both explicitly! They were both a pleasure to work with throughout the prosecution of the Band’s case, and they both had a sense of humor that often brightened up intense moments during negotiations.
For instance, during one meeting, in which the federal bureaucrats were trying to take the same kind of control that Indian Agents of old used to have, Raymond, with a twinkle in his eye, looked across the table and said to me “Danny, do you still say to them yes sir, yes sir.” My reply, with several choice words thrown in for emphasis, was “up yours my friend.” We had a good laugh, while the bureaucrats, not understanding, looked on in consternation, which only made it funnier.
During our prosecution of the Boat Harbour case, Raymond and Roddie both played a key roles. There can be no argument with the fact that Raymond was the Band Chief that had the tenacity to keep the issue front and center until he got someone to listen to him, me, and help him do something about it. Likewise, there can be no argument with the fact that Roddie was the Chief who had the strength and clout to keep it on track until finished. Without his strong leadership during this period, the lucrative settlement that we managed to negotiate for the Pictou Landing Band Members would not have materialized . As all good negotiators know; one must keep the pressure on the opposition, especially when you hold all the aces, as we did in this case, and present a united front, to reap for the aggrieved party as much as you possibly can.
The proof of the pudding that his strong leadership was essential to the successful conclusion of the Boat Harbour case was that it was Roddie, a man who enjoyed a good laugh, who managed to keep a group of band members, who were in a rush to have a settlement as soon as possible without hard bargaining under control, which permitted us to play hardball with negotiators for the Federal Crown. In retrospect, although he made it seem easy, he worked during that time under a great deal of pressure that weaker men couldn’t have withstood. And, during this period, he had to contend with winning elections every two years!
All in all the members of the Pictou Landing Band owe a great deal to several key men involved in prosecuting the Boat Harbour case for the band, Roddie takes a back seat to none. Hats off to a good man, and a valued friend!
Daniel Paul, May 24, 2008