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Change-Over Concerning Educational System Denied

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JULY 1974      v04 n06 p06  
The Department of Indian Affairs has thwarted the efforts of the La Ronge Band who want to transfer from the provincial educational system at Stanley Mission to the federal system.

At a meeting in Stanley Mission, Jim Freeman, Regional Director for Education read a short letter from Peter Lesaux, Assistant Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs which said, "We do not believe that it would be in the best interest of the Indians or the Department for this department to negotiate to take over the administration of these schools."

The Peter Ballantyne Band is also considering a similar move at Deschambeault Lake.

Mr. Lesaux did not give any reasons why the transfer would not be in the best interest of the Indians.

Mr. Freeman in an interview after the meeting said the Department's Education Director in Ottawa told him "to start a movement that would take over the administration of schools that have never been administered by the Department would start probably quite a large movement probably not, only in Saskatchewan but also nationally and it would cause considerable problems with take-overs."

Mr. Freeman pointed out the department has never taken an approach that would interfere with other administrations even though there are a number of Treaty people in facilities administered by the province.

Mr. Freeman said the department "is prepared to look at what has come out of the meeting, and find out why the Treaty Indian people want the transfer.

Pat Woods, District Superintendent of Education at Prince Albert suggested a strongly worded reply should be drafted, asking the A.D.M. to reconsider his position because it is the band, which knows what is best for its people.

Earlier in the meeting, Mr. Woods told the delegates a transfer agreement had been formulated, however, it was never discussed in detail because of Mr. Lesaux's letter.

The District Superintendent said his department and the La Ronge Band did not expect that reply when the proposal was sent to Ottawa.

A motion from the floor, to which all of the delegates agreed, stated a meeting should be held soon with the Stanley Mission School Committee, Indian Affairs, La Ronge Band Council, Mr. Ted Bowerman, Minister for Northern Saskatchewan, the Local Advisory Council and the F.S.I. to discuss the transfer because it has been approved by the reserve residents and the Metis people who live on the periphery.

The school is located within 50 feet of the reserve and is operated as a joint school. If it does transfer to federal administration the school will be opened to all the Stanley Mission residents, whether or not they are Treaty Indian who make up 80 per cent of the population.

A delegate, who spoke, to the motion stated, "we should continue pressing for the transfer because of the hard work we have been involved in up to now."

John R. McLeod of the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College in Saskatoon said he was disappointed with Indian Affairs and felt more could have been done so these people wouldn't be disappointed.

He said the transfer agreement and the proposal sent to Ottawa should have been in the hands of the Stanley Mission residents sooner so they could have discussed it before this meeting was convened.

No date was set for the next meeting.