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The Saskatchewan Indian Women's Association

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      FEBRUARY 1972      v03 n02 p11  
To many people the idea of forming an. organization is great and they say, "let's do something". The Area co-ordinators of S.I.W.A. are not only in the process of forming an organization by holding District meetings throughout the province, but they are also becoming actively involved in community development work within their own areas. Through a grant from the Department of Manpower under the Local Initiatives Program, these women are now helping other Indian women on the reserves to come together within their local groups, upgrade and generally improve their skills and knowledge in social and cultural areas.

In order to do the work with a minimum travel allowance they will be approaching F.S.I. Community Development and Communication workers, Indian Affairs Staff and Indian Health personnel, to provide them transportation where necessary. Most of them realize, since the idea of Indian women involved in field work is still relatively a new concept, they will no doubt be looked upon with skepticism and meet with opposition in some areas. However, these are the challenges they are willing to face and they will be looking for moral and active support from those who are already in this type of work.

Activities since Jan./72 January 1972

We picked the first and coldest day of the year to hold the Meadow Lake - Battleford District meeting. As any, Sask. resident knows, going to a meeting in a -40 - 50 degree temperature is no pleasant task, particularly for those who live in rural areas especially on reserves where transportation facilities are meager at the best of times. As a result only a few came on the first day. We also learned that many of the F.S.I. workers were on a course in Saskatoon and were unable to assist us in any way. Although all the Chiefs in the area were notified of the meeting, the response was not too good to say the least, but they no doubt had good reasons considering the weather and road conditions.

In spite of these adverse conditions the women who were there for the second day made the meeting worthwhile with their full cooperation on the structure and the main objectives of the organization and their obvious enthusiasm in becoming involved in community activities on the reserves.

They were informed by the President Irene Tootoosis, that the task of the co-ordinators will be to bring together groups of Indian women in local bands to discuss their needs and wishes and to interpret them how the organization can help them achieve its objectives of improving the lot of Indian women generally. They will also provide a channel through which' the women can make their needs known to the responsible authorities who are in a position to take effective action.

The women all agreed that there was a real need for more Family Counselling and Health Care Programs on the reserves and a continuation of Homemaking courses from the Extension Division, Univ. of Sask., with additional courses in tanning hides, quill work and beadwork, to be conducted by the women themselves. There was also a unanimous approval from all present that they did not want to be part of the emerging Sask. Native Women's organization which profess to include the Treaty Indian women of the province.

Although there may be a few treaty women involved in this group it was unfair to say at this time that this was the case throughout the whole province. It was indicated that there were obvious reasons for, this decision with respect to the protection of Treaty. Land and Special Rights, and for this reason they wished to remain as an organization of Treaty Women.

The Saskatoon District meeting was held at the Indian Cultural Center, Saskatoon the first weekend of Feb., with almost all reserves represented. It was very successful in a sense that the women participated in all discussions mainly due to the fact that most of the sessions were conducted in Cree, the major language of the people of northern Sask. Along with the general outline of the organization and the report of the plans for the National conference, the need for additional Homemaking courses was again emphasized. Just as in North Battleford the women all agreed that they did not want to be included in the formation of the Sask. Native Women's group and a resolution was passed to this effect.