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Executive playtime.

Name: Phil Fontaine

Age: 48

Work: Grand Chief, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

Play: Runner and Hockey Player

For the past three years, Phil Fontaine's familiar voice and stern face have almost become a television series for aboriginal issues. As the voice of 62 chiefs across Manitoba, he represents the collective political concerns of some 80,000 aboriginal people. His term has seen the Oka crisis, the failure of the Meech Lake Accord and the Charlotte-town Agreement, road blockages and demonstrations. As Fontaine himself puts it, "The issues we deal with don't bring a smile to one's face and I'm usually a fun-loving guy." As a major player in the issue of aboriginal self-government, treaty rights and land claims Fontaine has traveled widely. But wherever he goes there is always one piece of luggage that goes with him -- his gym bag. "I go from one smoke-filled room to another. If I don't exercise I get very lethargic," says the 48-year-old politician. Fontaine can be seen running at the local downtown YM-YWCA where he can breeze through a 10 kilometre effortlessly. Says the Grand Chief, "I've made some of my best speeches when I'm running. Running gives you a clear mind." He also is a member of a recreational league hockey team, the Northern Lights, where he plays two games a week. "I'm the oldest guy on the team," says Fontaine. Of his heavy exposure before the media, Fontaine says he's not entirely at ease. "But I've come to accept the recognition because of the issues I represent. The attention I get means we're being listened to by all Canadians and that's important."
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Title Annotation:focus on Grand Chief Phil Fontaine
Author:Gage, Ritchie
Publication:Manitoba Business
Article Type:Column
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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