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For Whose Interests? The Church Or The People

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      FEBRUARY 1973      v03 n02 p07  
Some confusion and misunderstanding has resulted from an article entitled "Who Speaks for Indians" and we feel it necessary to clarify a number of points.

The article was written in response to a number of attacks against the Indian leadership. The brief presented on behalf of the Indian clergy of the Anglican Church was the most controversial attack as it implied the authority to be in the hands of the church and not with the chiefs.

The brief was written on Anglican Church stationary but inquiries with some of the Indian clergy who signed it revealed that they were not involved in the drafting of the brief but rather signed the completed form.

At the time we wrote our article the best information we had pointed to Mr. Lawson as its author. However, after we published the article Mr. Lawson contacted the editor and indicated he knew nothing of the brief and was not involved in writing it up. We wish to apologize for any hardship this statement may have caused Mr. Lawson.

During the same conversation the editor offered Mr. Lawson the opportunity to equal space for a rebuttal. This Mr. Lawson declined.

We stated that Mr. Lawson has the most to lose by an Indian takeover. By this we meant that he has the highest position and by virtue of that fact would have the most to lose.

While we must agree that Mr. Lawson is a good administrator and has obtained good wages and working conditions for the staff, we must point out that the policies he had had to carry out on behalf of the Indian Department have consistently not taken the students' best interests into consideration.

For example in 1969 it was the government's policy to phase out student residences over a five-year period. This was carried out with the compliency of Indian Affairs staff. It was the moral obligation of the Department and the school administrator to inform the people. This was not done.

There are 350 students at the student residence, about 150 of these children are in special education courses for slow learners. That large percentage hardly reflects the capabilities of our people and it hardly reflects the students' best interests.

We wish to apologize for any personal overtones this article may have had on Mr. Lawson. However, we feel that this article was published in the Indian people's best interests and was necessary in view of the cloud of controversy that had formed around the Residence. Indian people are often the brunt of controversy when they attempt to take a greater control of their lives. At the present time there are six Indian-run student residences in Canada. Four more are currently in the process of takeover in Saskatchewan.