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The federal and provincial argument approves a budget of $44,000,000 for development in the Valley.
Up to this point, no comprehensive study has been implemented regarding impact of the water conveyance system. Because Indian lands are needed for completion of the system development has come to a halt. Indian people have been threatened with expropriation if they refuse to comply with demands for their lands. Indian endorsement of the project depends of course; on what insight and information an impact study would yield.
The conveyance system is a series of dams and other diversions such as straightening out the riverbeds and deepening and widening the river channels for more effective moving of water. Annual spring flooding and controlling water levels in upper lakes are also points for consideration. Since the dams have been constructed, about 5,000 acres of Indian lands have suffered permanent or semi-permanent flooding.
Under the leadership, of Roland Crowe, Chief of the Piapot Band, Indian opinion is reflected by the Qu'Appelle Valley Indian Development Authority. Bands represented include Piapot, Pasqua, Muscowpetung, Standing Buffalo, Sakimay, Cowesses, Kahkewistahaw and Ochapowace.
The delegation representing this Authority with FSI endorsement travelled to Ottawa to discuss the project with various government officials. Chief Solomon Sanderson of the FSI, Irvin Goodleaf and Noel Starblanket representing the NIB were present when the group met with the Honorable Jake Epp, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. Ron Rosebluff, Chief of the Muscowpetung Band, presented the major concerns of the group to government representatives.
Alvin Hamilton, MLA for Qu'Appelle-Wolsely constituency and Frank Oberly, chairman of the Standing Committee invited the delegation to attend the next Standing Committee meeting, a first ever for Indians! Fr. Bole Holmes, Parliamentary-Secretary for Indian affairs, Warren Allmand and Charles Caccio expressed surprise at the exclusion of Indian involvement in the Agreement, as did the NDP Caucus under the leadership of Simon deJong. The delegation was unhappy that Gordon McKane, minister of DREE, chose to concede to the wishes of Saskatchewan civil servants and not grant the Authority an audience. In this absence, however, the ADM John McNaughton received Authority representatives and was reportedly most impressed with the organization and diplomacy of the delegates.
Major points of contention pointed out by Ron Rosebluff, and Lindsay Cyr, on behalf of the Qu'Appelle Valley Development Authority are as follows:
Henry Delorme representing the Cowesses Band, pointed out how short-term funding received now would greatly alleviate problems faced, by the Authority the impact studies (including examination of past damages) could be, accomplished economic resources of the eight bands represented in the Authority could be surveyed; short-terms funding would allow the Authority to remain in operation during this crucial planning stage.
The group also met with the honorable John Fraser, Minister of the Environment, who committed his complete support to Authority members. Apparently, Mr. Fraser a man of his word; a short time after the meeting ended, the Authority learned that short-term, funding became available to ensure continued operation of the Qu'Appelle Valley Indian Development Authority (designated for consultation, technical support services and a study of past damages).
The delegation is to be commended for the organization of its approach. Objectives and goals were set only after thorough debate and examination of aspirations of the QVIDA; the delegates carried out a diplomatic, systematic approach to achieving these goals. All ensuing briefs and presentations to both federal and provincial governments were thoroughly prepared and well deserving of the praise and credibility awarded the Authority by governmental officials.