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Tony Cote, A Man Of Many Achievements

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JANUARY 1979      v09 n01 p07  
Tony Cote, A Man of Many Achievements A farewell banquet marking the end of, "eight years of good, dedicated and progressive leadership on Cote Reserve," was held Nov.30 in honour of Chief Tony Cote, whose terms of office expired when the new chief took over.

"The banquet was attended by staff and friends, "who appreciated what he has done for the reserve," a testimony to Cote said. "Under his leadership the band flourished to where it is today, becoming known as the most progressive reserves in Saskatchewan.

"Just to say you were from Cote, made you proud," the testimony said.

Cited as programs and accomplishments initiated by him were the following.

The Cote Recreational Complex, was completed and extended complete with artificial ice facilities "the first of its kind in this area".

Recreation programs were incepted for all age groups. The first all-indian Junior B hockey club started and operated for three years with non-Indian competitors. The club took the league championship one year and was runner-up he next.

Three Saskatchewan Indian Summer Games were held at Cote. The chief was responsible for getting funds and running the program.

Local bantam-age athletes were given a chance to participate provincially. "These games brought a lot of business to the area towns adjacent to Badgerville."

A complete minor hockey system with teams competing in leagues with area-town teams was incepted.

The "best sports facIlities on any reserve, in Saskatchewan", were built, complete with a quarter-mile blacktopped track, a one-half mile racetrack, ball diamonds, black-top tennis court and concession booths. "Towns in the area don't even have these facilities."

The Cote Band administration office handled programs of more than $1 million in the last fiscal year. "To date none of these programs have failed on account of Chief Cote."

"Band members were able to receive business loans for much-needed facilities at Badgerville. Why some of them failed was no fault of his, but because of poor administration of the individuals concerned," the testimony said.

"This year (he) incepted new housing programs through Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Residents are having homes renovated with indoor plumbing and (with) furnaces with full basements" it said.

"Band members were given first chance at jobs," it said. "He created a lot of positions at the band level."

A nursery staff by two band members was started.

A water, sewer and lagoon system, sanitation and waste removal were developed for Badgerville.

Cote Band Farm Ltd. created more jobs, it said. Money derived from crops goes back to the band in the form of program funding. "Thus our land is being worked and developed the way it should have been (rather) than when non-Indians were leasing our land and a killing on the Indian's land.

"In 1973 under the leadership of Tony Cote, the Cote Band took over nearly all the responsibilities formerly held by district Indian Affairs, it said. The effect of having all services locally available, made these services more realistic, meeting the needs of the reserve better, in spite of the fact that some of the band employees were inexperienced and in need of more training."

The Cote Wood Industries a post operation conducted by the band was expanded to include a sawmill, thus providing more employment for residents. An $80,000 band administration office was built in 1974, "a real architectural dream," it said.

A new water line was completed this fall, bringing better water into the village of Badgerville, piped in from old wells on the reserve. "This project started a year ago and was not completed, due to lack of funding. Tony Cote found the funds to complete this program."

A drug and alcohol project, known as the Saulteaux Centre, has been operating on the reserve for the last two years, staffed by a director and two councillors, which educates the residents on alcohol and drug abuse. "If it had not been for Tony Cote's interest and countless trips to Ottawa, it would not be operating."

"Tony Cote has spent a great deal of this time travelling, seeking funds and sacrificing his time for the betterment of the reserve," it said. "He gave everyone, a fair chance at job opportunities. If they didn't succeed, it wasn't his fault, they had the chances.

"All in all, he improved the living conditions of this reserve, brought programs, and cashed-in all available funding. Most of all, he had a good working relationship with all people, agencies, merchants and governments.

During his power he was also successful in forming the first oldtimer's hockey team that took part in the national oldtimer's hockey tournament at Lethbridge Alberta in the 1975-76 hockey season.

He then was able to take the Wagonburners to the national oldtimer's hockey tournament at St. John's, New Brunswick in 1976-77.

The following hockey season of 1977-78 Tony again organized the Wagonburners to participate in the national oldtimer's hockey tournament held in Regina. The Wagonburners were very successful in this tournament as they captured the E division championship.

After winning the E division title, the Wagonburners had the spirit and determination to enter the Florida classic oldtimer's hockey tournament in Tampa, Florida. The team will agree that this trip was the best ever made by the Wagonburners in April 1978.

Tony not only looked after the male side of sports and athletics, but he also took the Cote Selects girls fastball team to participate in the National Indian Activities Association (NIAA) championships. They first participated in them at Edmonton, Alberta in August 1977. He then took the same team to Bellingham, Washington in August 1978 for the NIAA championships where the team placed fourth out of a 32-team tournament. The teams were from both Canada and the United States.

Being promoter for sport and athletics for all age groups, Tony and George Keewatin took the Badgerville Pee Wees (alias Junior Wagonburners) to Winnipeg. There they watched a WHA hockey game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Indianapolis Racers. After the game they met Bobby Hull and the rest of the Winnipeg Jets hockey team. This was a real thrill for the boys as they not only got the professionals autographs hut they also got to talk with Ted Green and other sports commentators.

"We realize what you have done for the Cote Reserve," the testimony said. "How will the programs fare?"