Council of Elders

The commitment of the Council of Elders is fundamental to the work of the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba.  The Elders are historians, teachers, spiritual caregivers, language experts, and advisors. With their input, support and guidance, the TRCM is able to address specific Treaty language and knowledge to ensure deeper understandings in the TRCM research initiatives such as the Manitoba Treaties Oral History Project and the Historical Atlas of First Nations in Manitoba. In addition to the research initiatives, the TRCM Council of Elders has advised in the areas of curriculum development and leadership forums, and have participated as members of the TRCM Speakers’ Bureau.

Council of Elders Biographies

Elder Florence Paynter is from Sandy Bay First Nation and is the Treaty 1 Elder. She is also a band member of Norway House Cree Nation. She is a third degree Mide Anishinabekwe and holds a Masters Degree in Education from the University of Manitoba. Florence speaks Anishinabe fluently and has been involved in many language and cultural initiatives and ceremonies. She helps teach the cultural and spiritual knowledge and traditions of the Anishinabe people. Florence attended residential school and works hard to teach about the history of her people, the legacy of Indian residential schools, and its impact on us as people. She believes that we can be proud of who we are by learning about our own families, our own histories and our own languages.


Elder Harry Bone is from the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway Nation and is the Treaty 2 Elder. Elder Bone has worked tirelessly throughout his life to bolster Indigenous rights. He has served as Chief and Director of Education of his community, CEO of the West Region Tribal Council, and as Director of the Manitoba Indian Education Authority. He has a graduate degree in political studies at the University of Manitoba, where he was also a student advisor and lecturer. He was a Director of Native Programs for the Federal Government, a Vice-President of Aboriginal Cultural Centres of Canada and currently sits as Chairperson of the TRCM Council of Elders.

Having extensive experience in First Nations Governance, Elder Bone has led delegations that have met with all levels of government. He has also been instrumental to projects such as the Oral History Project and the Historical Atlas of First Nations in Manitoba. Elder Bone and Elder Doris Pratt co-authored Untuwe Pi Kin He – Who We are: Treaty Elders’ Teachings, a book that aims to inspire people through compassion, reason, humility and human dignity.

His distinguished achievements in leadership, scholarship and public service have been recognized by many individuals and communities that have been touched by his work. The University of Manitoba honoured Elder Bone with an Honorary Doctor of Law degree for his trendsetting work that continues to advance Indigenous education in Canada. More recently, Elder Bone was appointed to the Order of Canada “for his contributions advancing Indigenous education and preserving traditional laws, and for creating bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and communities.”


Elder James CoteElder James Cote (Makade Makwa) is from Waywayseecappo First Nation (Wewezhigaabawing) and is the Treaty 4 Elder.  He is the son of James and Margaret Cote. Elder Cote attended the Birtle and Brandon Residential Schools from 1947 to 1957. He worked as a farm labourer prior to his marriage to Lena McKay in 1967. He served as a Band Councillor for 16 years and an Ojibwe Language Instructor for two years. Currently, he enjoys his retirement and sits on the TRCM Council of Elders.


Elder William G. Lathlin is from The Opaskwayak Cree Nation and is the Treaty 5 Elder. His first teachers were his parents, Liz and George Lathlin, and his grandparents, Horace Whitehead and Mary Lathlin. William was raised with three sisters and three brothers in winter camps until he was sent to Prince Albert Residential School, which he attended from 1950-1954. He obtained a Grade 7 educationand went on to marry Myra Personius and raise five children. He sponsored his own Diploma in Business Management, he served as a Band Councillor for Opaskwayak Cree Nation for 24 years from 1974 to 1997, and he served as Chief of Opaskwayak Cree Nation for one term from 1997 to 1999. William was committed to improvement in the areas of health, education, economic and social development for Opaskwayak Cree Nation. He currently involves himself with youth issues by promoting education and teaches at the school when he is asked. William is currently developing a land based/traditional teachings program for disengaged youth in his community.


Elder D’Arcy Linklater (Wapiskiw-Ma’inkan from the Ma’inkan Clan) is from Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and is the Treaty 5 Adhesion Elder. He was raised by his grandparents who taught him to live openly like the water and the river to experience life to the fullest. His great grandfather was Pierre Moose the Chief who made the Adhesion to Treaty #5 with the Crown in Nelson House on July 30, 1908. Elder Linklater has worked as a trapper, fisherman, hunter and miner. Elder Linklater served as Executive Director for his Cree Nation and as an elected leader for over fifteen years. Elder Linklater has a keen interest in justice and equal rights for his people. He continues to work tirelessly for his people with the aim of combating injustices and poverty. He seeks sustainable ways to use the natural resources in a way that will provide meaningful opportunity for First Nations people while at the same time providing the protection and respect for the land.


Elder Joe HyslopElder Joe Hyslop is from the Northlands Denesuline First Nation and is the Treaty 10 Elder. His late father was Chief for 27 years for the Barren Lands Band. He is fluent in his first language of Dene and is grateful and continues to cherish his early formative years of education that he credits to his parents and grandfather, the late Donald Tssassaze Sr. Joe went to the Guy Hill Residential School for seven years in The Pas. He worked as a Welfare Administrator for the Barren Lands First Nation, and from 1993 to 2010 he served as Councillor and then for two terms as Chief. He has also been involved with the North of 60 Negotiations Team from 1999.