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Filles de Madeleine Association Inc. (Métis Women of Saskatchewan) have elected Janice Henry as the new president. Having a new executive brings a renewed sense of purpose to our organization,” said May Henderson, Métis Nation-Saskatchewan Provincial Secretary, in a news release. “We look forward to moving ahead with issues of importance to Saskatchewan’s Métis women under a new executive…” Henry, a social activist from Prince Albert, is the coordinator for Homes for the Homeless, a project that helps assist families and individuals in Prince Albert to find a home. She has a certificate in Human Justice and also has a certificate in Mediation from York University in Toronto. Henry was employed by the Ministry of Social Services and has worked with people with disabilities and some of society’s most vulnerable. The other new executive members are from across the province and include Karen Trotchie as vice-president, Pat Letendre as secretary, and Pat Caron Holton as treasurer.
Black Lake First Nation and Saskatchewan Power Corporation are proposing the construction and operation of a 42 to 50 megawatt water diversion-type electrical generating station at Elizabeth Falls. The proposed project, formerly known as the Elizabeth Falls Hydroelectric Project, would be located adjacent to the Fond du Lac River between Black Lake and Middle Lake, on Black Lake First Nation Reserve lands in northern Saskatchewan. The proposed project would involve the construction and operation of a water intake, a power tunnel, a powerhouse, a tail race, a submerged weir, a construction camp, a bridge, and access roads. This project is being assessed using a science-based approach. If the project is permitted to proceed to the next phase, it will continue to be subject to Canada’s environmental laws, enforcement and follow-up and increased fines.
The Advocate for Children and Youth 2012 annual report emphasizes the need for greater inclusion of First Nations in designing, implementing and monitoring the new child welfare system. “We share the concerns of the Advocate for Children and Youth as raised in their recent annual report; particularly, that we must collectively do better for First Nations children and youth in Saskatchewan as well as for all children and youth in this province,” said Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Vice Chief Dutch Lerat in a news release. “Why wait another day to make those investments that will see the system responsive to the children that are using it. The moment to act is now. If we had acted collectively 20 years ago, we would be seeing the returns on those investments today with fewer health and social issues facing our children, youth and families, less pressures on health, social and justice systems in the province, and ultimately, a healthier and wealthier province overall.”
Representatives from the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority and Indigenous Gaming Regulators are entering into discussions aimed at expanding the regulatory authority of IGR to include the registration of on-reserve charitable gaming employees and suppliers. “Providing IGR with additional regulatory authority is the next step under the terms of the Gaming Framework Agreement,” said the minister responsible for SLGA, Donna Harpauer, in a news release. “SLGA will continue to work with IGR to ensure the effective regulation of on-reserve charitable gaming.” The registration process includes criminal and financial background checks on individuals and suppliers to help ensure the overall integrity of the gaming industry. All gaming registrations are currently handled by SLGA.
The best in First Nations and Métis writing and publishing were celebrated at the Saskatchewan Book Awards ceremony in April. The Rasmussen and Charowsky Aboriginal Peoples’ Writing Award went to Regina’s Blair Stonechild for his biography, Buffy Saint-Marie: It’s My Way. Luther and University of Regina Arts Award for Scholarly Writing went to Reconciling Sovereignties: Aboriginal Nations and Canada by Felix Hoehn (Saskatoon), Native Law Centre. The province’s literary talent was celebrated at the 20th annual Saskatchewan Book Awards.
(Back row from left) Donna Desnomie (Director of Post Secondary and Higher Learning -Peepeekisis Cree Nation), Richard Ironquil (Headman - Peepeekisis Cree Nation), Ed Hourd (Business and Training Representative - Parkland College); (front row) Michael Cameron (Director of Training and Business Development - Parkland College), Mike Koochicum (Chief - Peepeekisis Cree Nation), Frank Dieter (Headman - Peepeekisis First Nation).
Peepeekisis Cree Nation and Parkland College have signed a memorandum of understanding committing the college to improve its skills training and labour market participation. The affiliation with Peepeekisis Cree Nation will involve tailored Essential Skills programs, Adult Basic Education, and specific skills training designed to link members of the First Nation with industry and jobs. The MOU will be in effect for five years.
The University of Saskatchewan has launched a new Web site that brings together all of the university’s Aboriginal initiatives, lists all of the events, resources and programs affiliated with the university’s Aboriginal academic and community activities, and outlines partnership activities. It also provides an overview of U of S’s English River facilities, located on a First Nation reserve. It also provides an interactive Aboriginal Engagement Map, showing activities, academic and cultural programs, services and events that are happening on campus and in other Saskatchewan communities. “Aboriginal youth are the fastest growing segment of the population in the country, and Saskatchewan has one of the highest populations of Aboriginal people in Canada,” said Candace Wasacase-Lafferty, director of First Nation and Métis engagement at the U of S, in a news release.
SaskMétis Economic Development Corp. has signed an agreement with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada to deliver a grant contribution program to Métis businesses in Saskatchewan. The Métis Assistance Program will be similar to the former business contribution program that had been delivered by Aboriginal Business Canada. The MAP program will provide funding for eligible business project costs. SaskMétis Economic Development Corporation was created in 1987 to finance the start-up, purchase and/or expansion of viable Métis-controlled small businesses in Saskatchewan. It has disbursed over 1,200 loans for $32 million for over 630 Métis-owned businesses in Saskatchewan.
After serving less than two years as president of First Nations University of Canada, Doyle Anderson has resigned stating family health as the reason. Anderson was appointed in 2011. Juliano Tupone, the university’s current vice president of finance and administration, has been named acting president. Tupone comes from the Sweetgrass First Nation. FNUniv also named a new board chair with the appointment of David Sharpe, who assumes the responsibility from Della Anaquod who has served in this role since 2010. Jocelyne Wascase-Merasty of Kahkewistahaw First Nation, assumes the vice chair position.
The Peepeekisis Cree Nation is refusing to re-sign its Contribution Funding Agreement with the federal government while Onion Lake Cree Nation has signed the CFA under duress. “We met with AANDC officials on a number of occasions to renegotiate the current CFA,” said Peepeekisis Chief Michael Koochicum in a written statement, “but our requests fell on deaf ears.” Onion Lake Chief Wallace Fox said membership also considered not signing but opted for signing under duress. At issue, said Fox, is that the new agreement removes clauses that protect treaty rights and includes a clause that ties First Nations into following any subsequent policy or legislation changes brought in by Ottawa that impact the contribution funding agreement. Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations has sent a letter to its 74 members, advising them to notify the minister they were forced to sign the new deal. FSIN Chief Perry Bellegarde has called the CFA “blackmail.”
A 38-year-old man will make a return appearance in court on May 23 on charges related to a bomb threat at the Dakota Dunes Casino on the Whitecap Dakota First Nation. The casino was evacuated on April 6 after the threat was received. It was re-opened two-and-a-half hours later. According to RCMP, members of the Saskatoon detachment responded around 8:20 p.m. after a threat was made. The building was evacuated, though there were no injuries immediately reported. During their investigation, RCMP identified a suspect, and with the help of the Warman detachment, the man was located at a Saskatoon hotel and arrested without incident. He is charged with uttering threats, mischief and public mischief.
An Assembly of First Nation’s hosted National Treaty Forum held at Whitecap Dakota First Nation at the end of March has resulted in the creation of a new National Treaty Alliance that would take a tougher stand on treaty rights. “There’s a growing sense that something needs to happen – that people need an alternative,” said Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. Nepinak said the new group would be open to First Nations that have signed modern comprehensive land claim settlements. However, the thrust of its membership would be Nations that long ago signed treaties entitling them to rights such as reserve lands, annual payments and hunting and fishing privileges. The national forum was a follow-up to a meeting in January with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Nine years following the death of 25-year-old University of Saskatchewan student Daleen Bosse, the man accused in her murder has yet to stand trial. On April 15, Douglas Hales, 34, opted for new legal representation and the trial has been adjourned until February 2014. Hales was arrested in connection with Bosse’s death in 2008 after her body was found in a secluded area just outside Martensville, and charged with first-degree murder and offering an indignity to human remains. The trial has been plagued by delays, with Hales now onto his seventh attorney. No reasons for the change were given in court.
The first woman to hold an executive position with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations has lost her position as First Vice Chief. On April 17, the FSIN’s Appeal Tribunal ruled in favour of Sheldon Wuttenee, who challenged the results of the Oct. 25, 2012, election, which saw Kim Jonathan win the position. Jonathan had 457 votes to Wuttunee’s 448. The tribunal found that errors were made by Chief Electoral Officer Loretta Pete Lambert, which interfered with the democratic process and set aside the election results. Given the decision, a vacancy has been created in the Office of the First Vice Chief in accordance with the FSIN Election Act. The Election Act calls for a by-election to take place if more than 18 months is left in the term. Jonathan had been elected for a three-year term.
The 11 First Nations of File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council declared a state of emergency April 16 as water levels rose near their communities and mass flooding was anticipated. They are seeking resources to mitigate the upcoming flood season. “The current (provincial disaster assistance program) system is failing our First Nations communities,” said Edmund Bellegarde, chairperson of the FHQTC, in a news release. “The provincial program imposes barriers for our First Nations to access adequate funding and puts our citizens’ basic needs at risk. There are serious health issues as a result of flooding impacts, such as families forced to live with mold.” The federal government funds the assistance program. “We are working with the province of Saskatchewan and First Nations to ensure communities are prepared for potential floods,” said an Aboriginal Affairs spokesman.
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