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La Ronge Plans Takeover Of Local School Programming

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      FEBRUARY 1974      v04 n02 p20  
La Ronge - One of the biggest concerns expressed by the La Ronge Band at their recent band council meeting at La Ronge, was the problem of transferring their school programs from the provincial to the federal school system.

There was a one-day walkout January 16 of all the teachers at the Stanley Mission school after they heard band members had voted in favour of transferring its school program from provincial to federal control. To try and I rectify the situation, Councillors Rhoda Hardlotte, Elizabeth Charles and William McKenzie called a meeting with the teachers and band members, at which time everyone voted against provincial control 227-0. At the same time, it was being rumoured around the village that white and Metis students would not be able to attend the school at Stanley Mission after it was under the federal school system.

The Chief of the La Ronge Band, Myles Venne, met with his Councillors at Stanley Mission, finding that the people had been given the impression the schools would be closed down since the teachers were threatening to quit if the school turned to federal control. The Chief reassured his band members that such would of be the case and that white and Metis children would be welcome to attend the Stanley Mission school.

Solomon Sanderson, Executive member of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians warned the La Ronge Band that various tactics will be used to try and discourage Indian people from taking control of their own education programs.  Mr. Sanderson, who is also the Chief of the James Smith Band, said he has proof of this because of the many problems which his band faced and are still experiencing when they took over their own education programs last year.

Myles Venne
Myles Venne

Concerning the one day walkout of the teachers at Stanley Mission, Mr. Sanderson recommended the Band find out if the teachers are prepared to work under the Federal School system and if not, "let them go." "There are all kinds of teachers looking for an opportunity to work under the Federal school system and the teachers at Stanley Mission can be easily replaced even at midterm," he said. He also suggested to the Band to go early and "get the pick of the crop" of graduating teachers at the University of Saskatchewan. Mr. Sanderson said the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College in Saskatoon is presently training Indian teachers who will be graduating in Jane of 1975.

In drawing an outline of what steps the La Ronge Band must take to "get things rolling", Mr. Sanderson recommended the Band to hire an educational consultant. He said the person preferably should be involved in education and have the ability to write. One name mentioned to fill the position was Gary Wauters, presently working under the Education section of the Department of Northern Saskatchewan and who has been closely involved with the La Ronge Band.

David Ahenakew, Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, congratulated the La Ronge Band in their decision, saying, "this is the trend in the Province and throughout the country".

"We agree with this trend because it means control which allows you for the first time to have some say in the education of your children," he said. Mr. Ahenakew said the joint school program stripped away the responsibility of direct involvement by the Indian parents.

The construction of an all weather road to Stanley Mission was also discussed. A majority of the Band members in Stanley Mission had voted in favour of it. Food supplies and various materials are transported to the Stanley Mission settlement every year by way of a winter road.

Norman McAuley of the Department of Northern Saskatchewan explained to the Chief and Council that a contract had been put in for a winter road to Stanley

La Ronge Plans Takeover Of Local School Programming

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      FEBRUARY 1974      v04 n02 p21  
Mission and that funds were available this year for such a road.

About the all-weather road, Mr. McAuley informed the La Ronge Band, that it will take up to approximately two years before any actual construction will begin. "A lot of survey work must be done to determine where the road is going to be built," he said. Mr. McAuley also informed the Chief and Council that the Department of Northern Saskatchewan want to employ as many people as possible from Stanley Mission when the construction of the road does commence.

During the meeting, Pat Woods, the new District Superintendent of Education for the Prince Albert Indian Affairs office, was introduced to the Chief and Council, Mr. Woods replaces Mr. Nick Wasyliw who has been transferred the Regional Indian Affairs office in Regina.

Mr. Woods, who comes from the Fort Qu'Appelle area, said he plans to spend a lot of his time working with people in the field. He also informed the La Ronge Band that he plans to turn over the full services of Mr. Dale McShane to work exclusively in the La Ronge area.

Mr. McShane, an education counsellor, is presently required to cover other areas as well, which does not allow him to be as effective. Mr. Woods told the Band Council that he will help them in any way he can.

Other local band matters were brought out and discussed with some band council resolution being passed.