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The offer was made by Premier Allan Blakeney during the Chiefs Annual Meeting in October of 1977. Plans were immediately put into motion to hold this historic meeting at the provincial legislature in Regina.
The conference opened with the grand entry of all the provincial Chiefs flanked by flag bearers in traditional dress together with singers.
The opening ceremonies included the Honourable Ted Bowerman, Minister of Northern Saskatchewan, bringing greetings to the Chiefs on behalf of Premier Blakeney who was out of the province at the time. He told the Chiefs that it was a historic occasion and that he hoped they would take note of the honourable history of the Legislature. He welcomed everyone and wished them well in their deliberations.
At this time, Chief David Ahenakew presented the opening address of the conference, a report of which is included in this Conference section.
About 11:30 A.M., the Honourable Otto Lang, Federal Minister of Transport arrived. He was representing the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, Hugh Faulkner who was travelling somewhere in the Yukon and could not attend the Saskatchewan event.
Lang told the Chiefs that he was pleased to be with them on this important occasion and proceeded to deliver Faulkner's message. Lang announced that the Indian Federated College would be receiving a $250,000 grant in order to help sustain its operation. In another comment, he told the Chiefs that there was a "great possibility" that a Band Development Agreement could be reached very soon. He also suggested that the Land Entitlement question would move forward in the coming months.
During a question and answer period, Chief Myles Venne of Lac La Ronge Band asked about education grants and told the Minister that there were schools in his area. Chief John Iron of Canoe Lake also asked the Minister about schools and Lang told them this would probably come up in the Band Development Agreement, but promised
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to look into both situations.
Another Chief asked about the taxation problem and he told the group that the NIB-Cabinet Committee was discussing that question at the present time.
This comment led NIB President Noel Starblanket to get up and tell Mr. Lang that he was leading the chiefs astray and that no negotiations were on-going with the taxation question in the Committee. He told Lang that he was going to court sometime in February on this issue and the government was the people taking him there. Lang replied that some discussions were on-going and that the question was open to dialogue.
During the dinner break, a large number of Chiefs said they were displeased with Langs announcements and in fact, "he didn't really say anything".
With regard to the Federated College grant, the feeling is that the Federal government is responsible for the total operation of the College and not just part of it. The federal government feels that the province should kick in half of the money, but the Chiefs feel that education is a treaty right and it is the total responsibility of the federal government.
During the afternoon session, the meeting was closed to all reporters so that the Chiefs could conduct some private business.
On Wednesday morning, it was decided to open the sessions again and reports of thee deliberations appear in this section as well.
A banquet and dance was held on Wednesday evening with Gordon McMurchy, the Minister of Transport for the province and Indian Liaison Minister as guest speaker.
The Minister totally gave the provincial governments support to the Indian people of Saskatchewan and expressed his dismay at Otto Lang's weak speech the previous day. A full report of Mr. McMurchy's speech as well as Noel Starblanket's remarks appear in this section.
During the evening, the Federated College held a happy hour under the leadership of Lorna Standingready. Singers Rosselin Lewis of Onion Lake Reserve, Johnny Walker of James Smith Reserve and Emil Garson from Northern Manitoba entertained. A little later, a "round dance" was held with most everyone taking part including McMurchy. Even Joe Leask gave it a go.
Several NIB Senators were present including, Burton Jacobs of Ontario, Henry Langan of Yorkton district, Wally Labilois of New Brunswick, John Young of Mani-
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toba, Walter Deiter, Omar Peters of Saskatchewan, Louise Gabriel of British Columbia and Percy Henry of the Yukon.
Gifts were presented to all the special guests by various individuals at the head table. Ivan McNab was the Master of Ceremonies.
Later a dance was held with the music of Sundown, who did a great job entertaining the troops.
The Thursday session went off very smoothly and full reports appear in this section along with appropriate photographs.
From all reports, the conference was well received by the various Chiefs and FSI officials. Now the work really begins to put into place the plans that were made by Chiefs at this historic policy convention.
Lawrence Whitehead, Chief of the Manitoba Indians, speaks to Saskatchewan delegates at the All Chiefs Conference held in Regina. Cliff Starr is seated in the Speakers Chair and was Chairman for the day.
Visiting the All Chiefs Conference were members of the NIB Senate. Here we see seated from the left, Percy Henry of the Yukon and Chief of Dawson City Reserve, Louise Gabriel from British Columbia, Wally Labilois from New Brunswick and Henry Langan of Saskatchewan. In the back row is John Young of Manitoba and Burton Jacobs of Ontario. Standing with the group is the Hon. Gordon MacMurchy, Provincial Minister of Transport and NIB President Noel Starblanket.