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FSI Executive - Reps Meet With Govt. And Opposition

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      MARCH 1976      v06 n03 p06  
This month, the Executive and District Representatives travelled to Ottawa to lobby with the various political parties and meet with civil servants about various situations in Saskatchewan.

The delegation went into a full day of meetings on Monday at the National Indian Brotherhood. There were three meetings on Tuesday with the Liberal Party Caucus, the Minister of National Revenue, and the Minister of Indian Affairs. Wednesday highlighted two meetings - the NDP Party Caucus and the meeting with the Assistant Deputy Minister (A.D.M.) Cam Mackie, and the final day Thursday, meeting with the P.C. Caucus and the Commons Committee on Indian Affairs were held.

Chief David Ahenakew of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians has told the Commons Committee on Indian Affairs that young Indians are becoming angry and militant. He told the committee that the Indian Affairs Department is transferring programs to other departments and the result has been a poorer and poorer Indian. Chief Ahenakew told the Commons Committee that he is sick and tired of seeing the government designing programs for Indians in Saskatchewan because they're probably going to fail and it's going to waste a hell of a lot of taxpayers money.

He said his message was one of frustration and told the committee he had little progress to report since the last time he and the 68 Saskatchewan Chiefs had journeyed to Ottawa.

Chief Ahenakew told the Commons Committee that the Federal Government has a totally un-cordinated and fragmented approach to the delivery of Indian programs and it is imperative, that the government stop this and commit itself to the implementation of the One Agency Concept.

Chief Ahenakew also took the government to task for its program of economic restraints saying that Canada was fighting inflation on the backs of its Indian people.

He challenged the Members of Parliament to accept an invitation from him and the Indians of Saskatchewan to visit the reserves in the province.

The Chief hit hard at the government's proposed cut-back of funding for Treaty rights and research programs, the Indian Cultural Centres programs, and the lack of, government interest in the Centennial of Treaty 6, which the Chief said was one of the cornerstones of a Canada from sea-to-sea.

The FSI, Representative told the MP's of the Liberal, PC, and the NDP Caucus, along with the Minister of Indian Affairs Judd Buchanan, and the Commons Indian Committee, that Indians have solutions to their own problems and are now taking steps to solve their own problems, but they require government assistance in the form of financing.

The issue of Treaty rights and research was presented to the Caucus meetings of the three major parties in Ottawa by Noel Starblanket. The progress made in documenting the question of. Treaty rights, entitlements and unfulfilled entitlements have been very great in Saskatchewan and now at this most crucial time, it appears that the financing of this research is to change. The proposed changes in the terms of financing have brought critical comment from the FSI and Indians in Saskatchewan.

The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Judd Buchanan told Mr. Starblanket that the funding issue was before the Treasury Board and he couldn't comment on whether or not the method of funding was to change because it was before the Treasury Board. The Minister also said he could not answer the question of whether the funding would take the form of funding to the Bands or in the case of the FSI would be funding toward the provincial organization.

Mr. Buchanan was non-committal when asked these question by the FSI and Noel Starblanket.

The Second Vice-President of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian's, Alec Kennedy, the man who holds down the responsibility for the Indian Agriculture portfolio, told the Minister of Indian Affairs pointblank that there were some serious difficulties in the implementation of this program in Saskatchewan.