Fort Frances Negotiating Team

Lead Negotiator
Chief James Leonard II
Rainy River First Nations
”This started in the mid 1990’s,” recounts Chief Jim Leonard II of the Rainy River First Nation. “Our Elders have told us, ‘We are responsible for teaching our children.’ At one time, we took great pride in guiding their education and showing them what they need to make their way in the world. History has shown us contact brought our people many changes. The creation of the Indian Act placed control over our education with the Federal Government. While our education has improved, we as First Nation communities have and to make compromises in order for our children to get an education.”

Chief Jim Leonard has been a driving force in the pursuit of the transfer of Education Jurisdiction from Canada to eight area First Nations since its inception. From 1995 to the present, Chief Leonard has brought a wealth of experience to his role as the First Nations Lead Negotiator.

Chief Leonard is a high school graduate who later obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Lakehead University. In addition, he also possesses a First Nations Lands Management and Environmental Assessment Certification.

Throughout his political life, Chief Leonard has worked with his community to further the development of new and/or innovative enterprises- a sturgeon hatchery, a window manufacturing plant, Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Centre, Management of the Man-o-min watershed, at his First Nation. As a former area Chief with the Portfolio for Education, Chief Leonard has served several terms as a Director to the Rainy River District School Board on behalf of the area First Nations.

During his tenure at Pwi-Di-Goo-Zing Ne-Yaa-Zhing Advisory Services, Chief Leonard and the Advisory Services staff were successful in bringing a variety of services to the area First Nations. One of their most recent successes was establishing partnerships to bring High Speed Internet to the Fort Frances Area.

As well, Chief Leonard is a successful entrepreneur and currently owns J.D. Junction on Highway 11/17.


Richard Bruyere
Executive Director, Pwi-di-goo-zing Ne-Yaa-Zhing Advisory Services

Having served as both the Education Coordinator and the Executive Director of the Fort Frances Chiefs Secretariat, Richard brings a broad array of skills to the First Nations Negotiating Team which have helped contribute in the past to the successful conclusion of the Framework Agreement and Agreement-in-Principle (AIP) on the Transfer of Education Jurisdiction file. Richard continues to represent the Participating First Nations interests in the process to negotiate a Final Agreement.

A member of the Couchiching First Nation, Richard served his community as a Chief for two terms and then as Council member for two terms. Richard has also served on many boards including the local Separate School Board, Confederation College and the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board.

Academically, Richard attended Seven Generations Education Institute for two years, receiving his B.T.S.B., and later wrote the exam to qualify for his secondary diploma. Along with his secondary diploma, he is accredited in Small Business Management.

An entrepreneur, Richard owned and operated a school bus service for 12 years. During the latter part of those years, he, along with his wife owned and operated the Couchiching Convenience Complex in his home community.

Tammy Ryll
Executive Director, Fort Frances Chiefs Secretariat
Tammy joined the Fort Frances Chiefs Secretariat as a Secretary/Receptionist in August 1998. Prior to this, Tammy was employed as a Program Secretary/Receptionist at Weechi-it-te-win Family Services. Tammy has spent the past three years coordinating the “Education Jurisdiction Transfer Initiative” on behalf of the eight Participating First Nations.

Tammy was born and raised on Rainy River First Nation. An Honour’s graduate of Fort Frances High School, Tammy elected to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Carleton University while fulfilling her employment responsibilities to the Fort Frances Chiefs Secretariat.

Legal Counsel
John Olthuis
Barrister & Solicitor, Olthuis, Kleer & Townshend

Team Support

James Mainville
Executive Assistant, Fort Frances Chiefs Secretariat
James has served as the interim executive assistant since November of 2007. A graduate of the Personal Care Worker program at Fanshawe College in 2004, James has significant experience in First Nations corporate support and governance. A resident of Couchiching First Nation, he had previously worked for Oh-Shki-Be-Ma-Te-Ze-Win Inc., a drug and alcohol treatment corporation now part of the Fort Frances Tribal Area Health Services Corporation.

His experience in support services has made him a valuable addition to the Fort Frances Chiefs Secretariat. He looks forward to the new challenges and opportunities as part of the negotiating team.

Fort Frances Chiefs Secretariat Member First Nations