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Agency Re-opened In Traditional Manner

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      MAY 1976      v06 n05 p06  
After months of negotiating and planning, the Shellbrook Indian Agency was officially re - opened Wednesday, May 11.

The official opening took place on the Sandy Lake Reserve with the chief and Councils of the four Bands, the staff of the new agency and representatives of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, in attendance.

Also present for the opening was Joe Leask, Acting Regional Director General of the Department of Indian Affairs in Regina and John McGilp, Director-General of Operations, Indian Affairs headquarters in Ottawa.

The four Chiefs and their Bands are: Paul Ahenakew from Sandy Lake, George Whitefish from Whitefish Lake, Jacob Bill from Pelican Lake, and Ed Fineday from Witchekan Lake.

The feeling from the four Bands as well as the new agency staff was that the official opening of the new agency should not take place in an office building but rather should take place in a band hall on a reserve so the maximum number of Indian people could be present to take part in the opening. It was felt this would show as a symbol for the need to work with the Indian people.

In his address at the opening ceremonies Chief David Ahenakew of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians stressed the need for good leadership and the need for the department to meet its responsibilities.

"Unlike many Saskatchewan Bands, these Bands do not administer their own programs.

"They have an interpretation of the Treaties that requires the department to carry out their responsibilities as it did for many years after Treaties were signed.

"The Bands believe that in order to protect their Treaties, the department must continue to meet its own responsibilities and not define for Bands what responsibilities they can and should assume.

"Bands however must govern for their people, listen to their needs and priorities and identify these to the department so both can work within the meaning of the Treaties for the benefit of the people. This is how the Bands want the agency to operate if the proper balance between the Bands and their trustee will be maintained," said the Chief.

The target opening date had originally been set for December 1975, however due to the difficulty of obtaining man-years and staff the actual functioning of the office did not take place until early in January. The Shellbrook Indian Agency became operationally fully independent on April 1 with a budget and full status as a responsibility center.

In his remarks at the opening, John McGilp from Indian Affairs in Ottawa stated his optimism to the new agency. "This new agency will work because both The Indians and Indian Affairs want it to work."

Joe Leask, the Acting Director General for the Saskatchewan region thanked the staff of the Shellbrook Agency in his opening remarks. He thanked them especially for accepting the challenge and the demands that were placed on them by

The Four Chiefs and the Indian Agent.
THE FOUR CHIEFS AND THE INDIAN AGENT
SEATED [L-R] Chief Jacob Bill from Pelican Lake, Indian Agent Harold Woodsworth, Chief George Whitefish from Whitefish band. STANDING [L-R] Chief Ed Fineday from Witchekan Lake and Chief Paul Ahenakew from Sandy Lake Reserve.


Agency Re-opened in Traditional Manner

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      MAY 1976      v06 n05 p07  
the growing pains of the new agency.

Dave Greyeyes, former Acting Regional Director for the Saskatchewan Region and now in retirement, told the people at the opening, "In the early 60's, there was a plan to go from municipalities to counties within the province of Saskatchewan. This plan was rejected by the people in the province. The department went into the district system much to the detriment of the Indian people. I sincerely hope that people will be better served by returning to the agency system," said Mr. Greyeyes.

The opening ceremonies were concluded with a feast and presentations made to the visiting officials from Ottawa and Regina as well as the staff of the new agency in Shellbrook including teachers on all the reserves who were also present.

John McGlip, Director General of Operations, Indian Affairs Office in Ottawa, addressed the assembly. Indian Agent Harold Woodsworth thanked the four Chiefs for the beaded jacket presented to him. Chief of Federation of Sask. Indians Dave Ahenakew thanked the four chiefs for the beaded vest presented to him.
John McGilp, Director General of Operations, Indian Affairs Office in Ottawa, addressed the assembly. Indian Agent Harold Woodsworth thanked the four Chiefs for the beaded jacket presented to him. Chief of Federation of Sask. Indians Dave Ahenakew thanked the four chiefs for the beaded vest presented to him.