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Quiet Takeover Begins

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JUNE 1972      v03 n06 p03  
Indians have begun their quiet takeover of the Lebret Residential School.

A board has been elected from 24 southern bands to run the Indians' student residence. With a $5,000 grant from Indian Affairs, board members are travelling through southern Saskatchewan explaining what the new directors expect from parents and students if the new system is to work.

Ernest Crowe of Piapot reserve, Fort Qu'Appelle, chairman said the government's target date for the Indian takeover is April, 1973, but the parents would prefer to begin in September with the new school year.

The school serves the bands in the Touchwood-File Hills Qu'Appelle and Yorkton districts. The 13-man board will begin by running the residence and take over the classrooms a year later.

Emil Korchinski, Indian Affairs regional superintendent for education, said this school takeover, unlike others in Canada, is occurring on a totally co-operative basis.

"We feel it will be a success because we are not dealing with emotions. It is not a confrontation process. We are all working together and we'll develop good management this way among the Indian people," he said in an interview.

The Federation of Saskatchewan Indians supports the idea of local control and this is what this is, he said.

The curriculum will be changed when the school comes under Indian control, Mr. Crowe said Cree will replace French.

"The main aim of Indian people running the school is to foster Indian culture and education in an Indian way," he said. The new Indian board will be able to assure the provincial government that Lebret school will offer equivalent academic training to meet provincial standards.

"We're fully exposed to everything in white society but total integration is harmful because the children were not even finishing the junior grades. They get diverted to urban centres and involved in crime," Mr. Crowe said.

In the residence, the Indian board will try to hire a complete Indian 51-member staff. Mr. Crowe said the board will look for Lebret graduates and try to get them back.

"We'll have a body of councillors to fill the communication gap which has developed between students and parents and staff. We want the children to learn how to get along in everyday life and we'll have resource people to help then," he said.

The, only question now is land ownership. Indians want the school land declared a reserve for tax reasons. Mr. Korchinski said the actual school buildings are federally owned but the land title is being studies. It is possible the Indian board could lease the land and buildings, he said.