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Chief Joe Williams A Tireless And Accomplished Leader

Morley Watson

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      MARCH 1979      v09 n03 p23  
Chief Joe Williams of the Sakimay Band north of Grenfell is in his fourth year as Chief of that Reserve. The 68 year old Chief has served on Sakimay Band Council all his life or as he puts it "all the time I can remember". Joe and his wife Emma have four children 1 boy and 3 girls. Their youngest daughter Loretta Mae Williams is a Dentist in Hazelton B.C. and she works very closely with the 8 Indian Bands in the immediate area.

Chief Williams, who got his early schooling at the Marieval Mission and in Lebret, rates Education as one of his and his Council's top priorities. He goes on to say "that nowadays the students have it a lot better than in years gone by with better conditions, facilities and more modern teaching technique's have helped the Indian Students in the past few years. However the Chief would still like to see more Indian Graduates. Chief Williams is also his Band's Representative on the Marieval Board of Director's since it's inception some years ago.

Chief Williams is also an original Last Oak Board of Director dating back to the early 60's. He has been with the Last Oak from the planning stages to the now Multi-Million Dollar Recreation Facility. He still sees room for improvement with Last Oak but he said they certainly have come a long way over the years. The Chief is also very glad to see Last Oak being managed by Local Indian people.

Although failing health has cost the elderly Williams to have his left leg amputated below the knee, he has not lost any of his great sense of humour or his dedication to the members of his Band. During this time of failing health he was going to resign, but the residents of his Reserve convinced him to stay on and complete his term in office.

Sakimay's Chief Williams on right, standing with his family.
Chief Joe Williams when he was 8 years old with parents Joe and Mary.
Chief Joe Williams when he was 8 years old with parents Joe and Mary.

Chief Williams speaks very proudly about the good working relationship between his Band and the people of the neighboring town of Grenfell.

He is very happy that the local Detachment of the R.C.M.P. and his Band Members have established a closer working relationship over the last couple of years.

The Sakimay Chief and his Band Members are very proud of the covered Skating Rink. The rink is not only used for Hockey, but for broomball and other social functions. They also have a Curling Rink, but due to ice problems, they have since turned it into a Recreation Centre. Although it is not quite completed, it is used very regularly and will be a very important part of this Reserve upon completion.

The Sakimay Band also owns Grenfell Beach. This very popular summer resort lies in the beautiful Qu'Appelle Valley, and is operated by Band Members.

Chief Williams also says that he and his Council get along with Indian Affairs quite well. He said they usually get what they are after, but like many other Bands, they often encounter their fair share of problems. However he and his hard working Council always seem to overcome any problems they encounter.

Nowadays we consider ourselves quite fortunate to speak two languages, but Chief Williams went a few better. He went on to learn seven. He is very quick to point out that besides his native tongue of Saulteaux, he also speaks, Sioux, Cree, Ojibway, French, German and Ukrainian. Quite an accomplishment in itself.

Chief Williams had the distinct pleasure of meeting Queen Elizabeth in Melville during the Royal Tour last July. They spoke briefly

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Chief Joe Williams A Tireless And Accomplished Leader

Morley Watson

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      MARCH 1979      v09 n03 p24  
on the treaties. However due to the short time allotment, she promised the Chief that they would go over the Treaties when Chief Williams returns the visit this coming summer, a trip the Chief is looking very much forward to.

With the afternoon wearing on and the Chief having another commitment, I asked no more questions. I could not help but remember the time at a Chief's Conference back a year or so ago, when this old fellow went around shaking hands with fellow Chief's, F.S.I. Executive and anyone in general. He had a small buzzer that gave quite a shock tucked away in his right hand. I wished him good health and many years of happiness, I then took a few pictures of him and bid farewell to the colorful ole' Chief of the Sakimay Band.