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Walter Deiter To Receive Order Of Canada

Deanna Wuttunee

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      AUGUST 1980      v10 n08 p07  
Walter Deiter to receive Order of Canada A prominent Saskatchewan Indian leader, Walter Deiter of the Peepeekisis Reserve near Balcarres, has been honoured by the government with an appointment as an officer of the Order of Canada.

The Order of Canada is this country's highest distinction to recognize outstanding achievement and service to fellow citizens or to humanity at large. It will be presented to Deiter at a special investiture some time this fall.

Deiter, renown for his contributions and concerns toward the development and self-determination of his people, began his record of service in 1958, when he and his wife, Inez, were the driving force in laying down the foundations for the inauguration of the Saskatoon Friendship Centre.

He was elected chief of the FSI in 1966. Under his leadership, the organization maintained a strong and unified voice in the protection of treaty rights and was fiercely determined to control its own destiny.

"We (FSI) were the first group to convince the government that we could handle our own money," says Deiter. The Federation was the first native organization in Canada to obtain funding.

The Federation acquired a grant from ARDA, the precursor of the Special ARDA program, to organize conferences and meetings.

At this time - in his crusade to improve the social conditions of his people - Deiter, advocated representation of native people on all the advisory boards possible both federal and provincial.

To boost the almost non-existent employment opportunities for his people, Deiter negotiated with former Saskatchewan premier Ross Thatcher for a five per cent hiring policy of Indian and Metis people within the provincial government.

He was also instrumental in designing the first plans for the native-controlled Native Metal Industry in Regina, which is still in operation.

Leadership development of native youth was also important to Deiter. His support and assistance to several young people to take leadership roles includes Noel Starblanket, president of the National Indian Brotherhood and Delia Opeekokew, a lawyer in Saskatoon.

Realizing the need for a unified structure to voice native concerns, Deiter and his staff helped to organize two neighboring native organizations, the Indian Association of Alberta and the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood.

When Deiter left the Federation in 1968, he was given a mandate to organize a national Indian body. With this mandate and $68 he went on to establish the National Indian Brotherhood - to be recognized as an advisory body to the Prime Minister on matters pertaining to Canada's treaty Indians.

In 1969, with Deiter at the helm, the brotherhood was unified in opposition to the white paper policy on Indian assimilation proposed by Indian Affairs.

Walter Deiter To Receive Order Of Canada

Deanna Wuttunee

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      AUGUST 1980      v10 n08 p08  
He returned to Saskatchewan in 1970 and together with a few friends formed the Native Alcohol Council, aimed at establishing rehabilitation centres for native people within their own communities.

Today there are NAC centres in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

He has also worked with the Metis people in their housing programs. Walter returned to his reserve in Peepeekisis where he served as a band council member.

Since 1978 he has been employed as an FSI consultant and was one of the five chosen to present native concerns to the British parliament in July 1979 during the Saskatchewan chiefs' trip to England.

He is currently the Southern President of the Saskatchewan Indian Veterans' Association and is firmly entrenched in the plight of Canada's Indian veterans.

Editor's Note: From the people of Saskatchewan - we salute you! You are a true pioneer in mind and spirit in the field of Indian development.