|Previous Article||Next Article||FNPI Search||Home||Previous Year||Next Year||Year List|
Elders, Guests, Chiefs, Councillors, Ladies and Gentlemen, I, first of all, want to thank the Deputy Mayor, Pat Lowry.
Pat, I am sure I speak for all Chiefs and delegates here and we would like you to tell the Mayor, Cliff Wright, we now know who does all his work. We also want to thank him for asking you to represent his office. I am sure I speak for the rest of the delegates when I say you are a very pleasant representative, and the spirit with which you delivered your message will be taken very seriously by the Chiefs of this Assembly. The message is very encouraging. The message speaks for the kind of relationship that exists here in Saskatoon between the Indian community, the leadership in this city and the citizens of Saskatoon. It is second to none when you compare it with the rest of Saskatchewan.ln deciding the location for the Assembly, that is one of the important factors. I also want to say, I am sure she is not only representing the Mayor's office but she must be representing the Chamber of Commerce's office as well. With the spirit in which you delivered your message to us we decided a few years ago that we would not blame the victim. We call these difficulties and conditions that we are in now as Indian people symptoms of larger concerns. Many of those concerns are related directly to the degree of loss of control of our society and our own developments, and that is the goal and objectives of the Chiefs of Saskatchewan and our Bands. I want to thank you, Pat, for being with us this morning.
Our 1981 Annual General Assembly is going to be called upon to determine the future of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians and the Indian people of Saskatchewan. In the 1980 October Conference, 1981 January and April Chiefs Policy Conferences you have produced and provided firm direction so that we can meet the challenges of the 1980's.
The crucial issues that develop the stage for the most serious crossroads of the signing of our Treaties have received your undivided attention, as our leaders in the province of Saskatchewan. We are going to try to summarize the action taken on all the issues and highlight the action required for further implementation. It is your unified effort and through that unified effort that we will continue to rely on our Bands, Chiefs and Councils, our District Chiefs Councils, our Chiefs Policy Conferences, the Boards that are now established by the Chiefs of this province, the Commissions that you established. We will continue to implement a comprehensive political and economic plan strategy for the Indian people of Saskatchewan. These plans must be designed to implement our Treaty Agreements and those rights guaranteed by Treaty.
I want to review with you those respective rights in specific terms. First of all, the Land Rights guaranteed under Treaty entitlement under the direction Chiefs, last year. At this time we have eighteen bands validated for entitlement, we are now completing negotiations on another six and that will bring the total number of bands validated to twenty-eight in the province. The Peepeekisis and the Lac La Ronge Bands are categorized for special validation and those negotiations are starting this month.
To date, there have been approximately 116,000 acres transferred to reserve status with approximately another 340,000 acres about to be transferred. There is some resistance to entitlement, however, at the direction of the Chiefs of Saskatchewan involved in land entitlement. We have now met personally with those individuals to explain to them the obligations of Canada under Treaty and the debt owing under Treaty.
The Entitlements will add approximately two million acres of new land to our reserves in Saskatchewan. The co-operation from both the Federal and Provincial Government is to be commended because nowhere else in Canada do you see those kinds of lands being committed for reserve status at this time. The Minister of Indian Affairs is working on getting through Cabinet a policy document that will provide extra resources for entitle-
We are now starting to formerly address the strategy for land surrenders and we will soon be calling a meeting of all the Chiefs involved in land surrenders to address some fundamental principles that we all clearly agree on to recover lost lands. Including in the formula, we have to address the return of those lost lands. The compensation required for loss of those lands since they were lost we have had loss of access to the use of those lands. In some cases the government has already acknowledged the degree of fraud and they are prepared to look at returning those lands. Speculators within government from 1896 - 1954 were successful in acquiring approximately 416,000 acres of what was formerly reserve land in the province of Saskatchewan.
Special Lands under Treaty, in addition to reserve lands, there are those lands guaranteed for hunting, trapping, fishing, gathering, territory not on reserve but within the treaty areas throughout the province of Saskatchewan. We have met with both the Federal and Provincial government to ask them for Cabinet appointments so that we can address formerly,putting in place, those traditional lands and the access and management of those traditional lands and resources.
The Province of Saskatchewan has appointed the Honourable Ted Bowerman, Minister responsible for entitlement. We are also working with the federal Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
On Veterans Lands, we are working to complete the specific documentation with the Indian Veterans Association so that they can get and receive their proper share of lands that were guaranteed to Veterans upon return from the Second World War. There are specific criteria that are laid down for them to qualify and we will address those during the documentation with each of the Indian Veterans.
The Area of Tax Exemption under Health and Education Tax at the moment, that is continued in terms of the deductions made at source for the individual Indian or a Band. The province is still insisting on assessing tax for health and education on other areas. Negotiations will continue to get total tax exemption for health and education tax.
The Provincial Gas Tax Rebate Agreement as you know has been accepted for four years. Some of those funds have been released to our bands. However, negotiations will continue to achieve a deduction right at source, at the gas pumps and those negotiations will continue over the next four years.
For Oil and Gas Tax with respect to the heavy oil and gas developments. A firm letter has been sent to the Federal and Provincial Governments with respect to the negotiations to the energy pricing agreement that is going on between Saskatchewan and the Federal Government and the letter addresses two specific areas of concern:
We are also negotiating with both Federal and Provincial Governments on the exemption of income tax. They have suspended all action on Indians both on and off Reserve with respect to income tax. They have agreed they will work towards the political solution to the exemption with us in the province of Saskatchewan.
We have won all our court cases with respect to moving the taxation issue forward based on treaty. Other parts of treaty, they have lost the court cases but they did not advance them under the position of treaty.
I want you to consider this one because it's the new area of negotiation and that is the area of liquor or alcohol related and tobacco tax. I am asking you to seriously consider it because I am looking for specific direction from this Assembly on it. As you know the articles of treaty say "No Alcohol", but no matter what we do or what you do Indian people are going to continue to use alcohol. Indian people are going to continue to smoke and use tobacco.
Our proposal to the Province of Saskatchewan is that we want to have the tax that's assessed for the tobacco and alcohol rebated to the Indian people of Saskatchewan. So, it can go towards our political developments. We would like to establish four principles:
I would like you to seriously consider that proposal
There has been an agreement firmed up laying out the terms and conditions between the Federal and Provincial Government and ourselves on cost sharing for construction, operation and maintenance of roads and also recognizing Indian jurisdiction for those road rights-of-way.
As you know, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians has never accepted it. But by band council resolution, the province could get land right of way to build grid roads in our communities without going to Band referendum. We still do not know how to recognize band council resolutions and we see no reason why the province cannot build grid roads, hard surface roads in our communities without extinguishing for that land and those roads. We are saying that those roads be built under the jurisdiction of our Chiefs and Councils.
The next phase is to negotiate with the provincial and federal governments, a specific level of funding on an ongoing basis annually to our bands for road construction and road maintenance.
Under the direction of our Chiefs, Indian Economic Resource council has completed a package in economic strategy and policy for the province of Saskatchewan. This package has been presented to the Federal Government by the DREE department, Canada Manpower and the Department of Indian Affairs. Each Cabinet Minister we met with directed their own Director-General to form a committee so that they could work towards designing fiscal implementation agreements to respond to that policy.
I want to highlight some of the areas of that policy document.
One of the areas we are asking you to seriously look at is the role of the Department of Indian Affairs in economic development. That role must be assessed for these reasons: they have specific obligation and trust responsibility in the field of economics under treaty. They have attempted to move away from that responsibility and that obligation. The Department of Indian Affairs' expenditures, in the region and headquarters, are allowed to determine their priorities. Economic Development is low on their priority list for expenditures. The other concern that we have is that we continuously see management lapsing economic development money and redirecting them to offset their deficit in other programs or administration. How much longer can we allow that to continue?
We recommend that we address it seriously. We recommend that you take into account these areas. One way that we can guarantee that we do not lose economic monies is to negotiate, design and sign Economic and Band Development Agreements. We are tabling with this assembly a resolution from our January Policy Conference by the Yorkton Chiefs calling for a General Band Development for all of Saskatchewan.
The next topic is Education.
You directed us five years ago to complete a capital study on all schools with all bands within the province of Saskatchewan. We tabled that document three years ago with the Federal Government in Ottawa, and in Saskatchewan and it was discussed in some detail the deplorable conditions that our schools were in and bands need for new schools. The capital and the school constriction study brought from the Treasury Board over $25 million in capital for school constructing in Saskatchewan during the last three years. There's only been about 14 of those funds committed and were used towards schools construction by management in headquarters and region. They have allowed an annual lapsing of the capital money and redirection of the rest of it into their own deficits and their own programs and their own administration. As far as we are concerned that is called mismanagement. When we do it or when you do it, it is called mismanagement, when they do it, they call it balancing the books. That is why our schools are not built. We sympathize with the Chiefs and the Bands because the schools are not built. But again, this is one issue that has to be brought to the floor with Dr. Anderson One other issue that has to be addressed with the Minister of Indian Affairs is the continuous conflict that regional office and headquarters have for further development in our communities.
Our Institutions are being formally transferred now under the boards appointed by our Chiefs in the province of Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan Indian Federated College is expanding to include the Saskatchewan Indian Institute for Law as directed by yourselves at the last Chiefs Conference. Saskatchewan Indian Community College is expanding the technical institutes that is being developed and established by our Meadow Lake District Chiefs and to the Indian Management Institute that was implemented by our Prince Albert District Chiefs some two years ago. This proposal has been finalized, completed and is now being implemented. Our Chiefs' resolution to establish and develop an Indian Education Act. This work is being completed and we will have a final report for our November Chiefs Policy Conference. Prior to the November Chiefs Policy Conference we will attend the district and agency meetings to address with the Chiefs the Saskatchewan Indian Education Commission. We have negotiated long term funding for the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College and we are now
Our Saskatchewan Indian Housing Commission under the direction of the Chiefs, through their efforts and your efforts, we are able to construct 540 homes this year compared to 275 last year. The Commission is continuing to work on Saskatchewan Indian Housing Policy that compliments our developments and your developments in the communities. An agreement is being discussed with the Federal Government for off-Reserve housing developments under the direction of each of the Chiefs and Councils in various areas of the province. We also address a land assembly in the urban areas for Indian Housing Developments.
A priority was given by you as Chiefs of Saskatchewan, real concern of Child Care and Adult Care Services. We have spent many hours negotiating some fundamental principles, first of all recognizing the Federal Department of Indian Affairs trust obligations under Treaty for those services. We have also reached an understanding of certain principles with respect to those areas of services with the province of Saskatchewan. The task force, directed by the Chiefs, will have further recommendations for you to consider on that specific arrangement.
We are calling for the establishment of the Saskatchewan Indian Child Care Service under your direction. We feel that the Treaties have guaranteed that the responsibility and obligation for Indian children is that of the community, the parents of the community and the leadership with each of the bands. In negotiating two agreements, we are looking at these areas with the province of Saskatchewan, they are prepared to look at providing some development funding for boards for Child Care and Adult Care Services.
The agreement with the Federal Government - we are negotiating specific services to be delivered on the reserve under your direction as Chiefs and Councils and having them accept their responsibility for Adult Care and Child Care Services.
Our Task Force also presented to the Parliamentary Commission that was established for addressing the needs for the handicap. That presentation and other presentations across Canada have sparked Parliament to provide extra funding, new funding for services to Handicap. We are looking to firm up an agreement with respect to the services for Indian Handicap people in the province of Saskatchewan once that new program is announced.
In the area of Sports and Recreation - we have completed negotiations to re-establish a Sports and Recreation Program in the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians. It is not a very large amount of money, but it will allow us to get it back on track.
Saskatchewan Indian Sports Loto, that you are supporting for development has to have some specific areas addressed. But, we are proceeding to implement the Indian Loto with the understanding that those kinds of funds that are raised from the Loto would be provided to our Bands for Sports and Recreation Development Programs and the Development of our Youth. We also understand that they will be provided to assist in the Cultural Developments both On- and Off- Reserve. Funding could go towards the development of our Sports College System throughout the Province of Saskatchewan.
In the area of Canada Indian Fiscal Relations at the january Chiefs Policy Conference a resolution was passed to address our concerns with the Federal and Provincial Cost Sharing Agreement that impacted directly on our Treaties and our Indian Rights and our Developments. One of those Federal-Provincial Fiscal Agreements is the established program funding. The Federal-Provincial Agreement that transfers funds from the Federal Government to the Provincial Government for Health, Education and Social Services which includes the total Indian population of Saskatchewan.
The other one, the Canada Systems Plan or Act is another Federal-Provincial arrangement with a transfer of more funds under the area of social assistance and so on. These agreements are up for renewal and there was a federal all Party Committee struck by the Federal Government that addressed these specific areas. That all Parliament Committee Task Force of Parliament was formerly addressed by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians specifically myself and we put forward some concerns.
The recommendations were accepted seriously by the Parliamentary Task Force and what they have recommended based on our recommendations and our recommendations were that:
Federal Trust Obligation for the specific Task Force be established and review those areas of responsibility. That, of course, was a recommendation outside of the terms of Parliamentary Task Force, however, they did not consider that proposal. The Task Force, in its report, said that they were seriously sympathetic of the concerns expressed by the Indian people of Saskatchewan and the quote from the report says this: "The appropriate Federal Minister or Ministers establish clearly the fiscal arrangements, that fiscal arrangements shall not in any way prejudice the existing constitution responsibilities of the Federal Government for Indian people."
The Task Force continues to urge the Federal Government to take immediate action and they have directed the Honourable John Munro to initiate discussions between National Health and Welfare and Secretary of State and the Department of Indian Affairs to address their follow-up on those specific recommendations. John Munro has confirmed this by letter and we are now recommending that the minister take immediate action to address these concerns so that we can develop a proper Canada Indian Fiscal Relationship as guaranteed under Treaty.
We also ask that the regulations governing funding to bands be improved. There is no question that the funds allocated to the bands in Saskatchewan are over regulated by the Federal government.
The Department of Regional Economic Expansion Agreements, Western Northlands and Special ARDA are expiring within the next 1-2 years. Discussions are underway to get specific implementation agreements so that our bands can go ahead with their developments and again we ask you to seriously consider the resolution that is being tabled for General Band Development There was a suggestion that there might be a Southlands and a Northlands Agreement. We would like to see implementation agreements designed for implementation for developments through the province of Saskatchewan and on that we need your support.
The Indian Justice Resolution was passed at our last April Conference. We have set up an interim Indian Justice Commission to review the Policing Program. We are establishing various detachments on various reserves throughout the province of Saskatchewan. The RCMP are now working with us and will be in touch with you at your districts to discuss implementation strategies.
The Indian Probation Program is to be expanded north of the DNS line. The Court Workers presently employed under the Friendship Centers will be brought under the Indian Justice Program. We are looking to continue the development of the Indian J.P. Program and the development of Tribal Courts throughout the province of Saskatchewan.
The Institute for Indian Law that was addressed at the April Conference will be an extension of the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College developments and we will work through the board of the Indian Federated College to continue with those developments.
One of the areas that has to be seriously looked at and addressed is that of a handbook on "Indian Law". We are always questioning what the position of Indians are with respect to that area of development and we look to you for direction for getting work done in those areas. The final report for the Saskatchewan Indian Justice Programs will be ready for the next Policy Conference. We are asking that the Chiefs and their district make their formal appointments to that commission because we only have it as an interim commission of staff at the moment.
Last year, we said activesupport and work was needed for the implementation of Indian Government in Saskatchewan and there was a resolution tabled and supported at the last January Conference to implement those areas. The Constitutional Commission is tabling a further resolution for your consideration here. The direction you have taken on implementation of our political developments is one that reflects implementation at all levels.
In your kit you will find a proposal for Indian Government developments under Treaty where they guarantee the recognition that Chiefs and Headmen shall receive salaries. We are asking that each Band consider the proposal seriously and look at appointing or electing, in addition to their Chiefs and Councilmen those four headmen guaranteed under Treaty. In this way, we see strengthening of the Chiefs Office and the Indian Governments on Reserves.
We are also asking that there be a specific overhead cost operation of the Executives, staff and the Government offices on our reserves. As you know, right now, the overhead for that area of cost is met by some percentage of program funds that you may be receiving. We are asking for a definite guarantee of funding to be provided in that area. This specific package in terms of dollars and cents reflects a cost of about thirteen million dollars over the next year.
The District Chiefs, Councils and your Reps. to the extent, the jurisdiction of our Chiefs into Treaty areas because under the Indian Act, are restricted to the reserve boundaries but under Treaty there is obligation and responsibility in the Treaty areas. So, in the package you will also find the proposal dealing with the funding required for the Chiefs and District Reps. offices at the district level and the agency level. This, of course, is funding to allow you to continue with the kind of meetings and the kind of policy you want to see established for implementation of our Treaties. It also extends your jurisdiction to the urban centres like Saskatchewan, Prince Albert, Regina, etc. The cost in that package for that proposal is about 1.3 million dollars.
The financing for those political developments I have outlined to you, one area that we have discussed with the province of Saskatchewan for their consideration. We estimate at the moment the returns on Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Rebate towards that proposal would be a minimum of $6 million a year. You might consider the Tax Rebate for all those Indian people who stopped drinking over the last five years retroactive.
The other thing that the province has committed funding tois with respect to the Treaty Area Centers. The Core Funding we used to get to operate our Executive council has been redirected to support the funding needed for your operations at the district and the agency level. We will continue to try and secure the funding needed to operate our own executive offices. When we look at the total dollars with respect to the proposal that's in your kit there is $13 million plus needed for Chiefs salaries. We increased the Chiefs' salary on our
We also need the $1.3 million for the operation of Treaty Administration Centers under the Chiefs of Saskatchewan. The present level of funding being directed to that area from Secretary of State, Department of Indian Affairs, and the province of Saskatchewan is $680,000. That means for next year we have to find approximately $600,000. For the Chiefs, the Indian Government developments on our reserves and off the reserves. At the moment, we could not get an actual figure from the Dept. of Indian Affairs. Core Funding is providing approximately $3.1 million. That means we are going to have to find approximately $7 million for the funding and financing of that total package and earlier I said that the minimum I expect from the Alcohol and Gas Tax Rebate is about $6 million. After this meeting I will formally reply to the Provincial Government on that proposal. At the moment. it's a tentative position but if we get your support at this assembly we'll certainly move ahead towards implementing it.
We have worked hard over the two years to try and find funding for these areas and those are our specific proposals to you for your consideration. Like I mentioned,there will be a resolution tabled for your consideration.
The Federation of Saskatchewan Indians reorganization has been going well. We need to have the District Chiefs and the bands address it more formally because we should complete it by January 1st as was mentioned by our speaker, Felix Musqua. Since the legislation is no longer there for our recognition. We are proposing that the Chiefs and Bands in their respective districts, agencies get organized by Memorandum of Agreement and not incorporating Federal or Provincial Governments. At the provincial level, we are proposing that the Indian Governments of Saskatchewan sign a formal Treaty Agreement for the operations of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians.
Of course you know, as Chiefs of the province of Saskatchewan we have assisted and supported the reorganization of the National Indian Brotherhood towards the Assembly of First Nations that consist of All Chiefs of Canada and we will continue to work with you in implementing those strategies.
We are asking you at this moment, to take formal steps to amend the present constitution to add two additional vice presidents so that we can continue with the kind of work that has to be done in the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians. You can see the kits that have been prepared for this conference, for that I have to commend the boards and the commissions established by the chiefs who are in many cases Chiefs themselves. The amount of work that is there and has to be done we need to have two additional vice-presidents. The organization over the years from 1957 - 1958 had a President, Vice President and a Secretary-Treasurer position (Secretary-Treasurer was only one position). The Federation expanded in later years; President, Vice-President, Treasurer position was created separate from the Secretary's position, which expanded to four positions. Later, the Federation was expanded to President, First Vice-President, Second Vice-President, Third Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer. We are now asking you to consider our dilemma, our frustrations to be able to have two more vice presidents to share the load and work with the team at the provincial level. We also expanded the agency reps., district reps., and we now have a total of 13 reps. within the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians. In order to allow the transition of re-organization of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, we are asking you to consider a by-law change by resolution to the present constitution, so we allow for a smooth transition in the reorganization.
The Canadian constitution, the position of patriation for Canada is one that will continue to oppose, even if Trudeau and the provinces are successful in patriating. We have never supported the patriation of the Canadian Constitution. We have worked hard to lobby the Federal and Provincial Governments in Canada to recognize our position of our more implemented strategy now and I want to say a word briefly about the constitution decision.
The Supreme Court was asked to consider the need for the provincial consent on patriation. They were asked to consider some other questions that were between the Federal and Provincial Government. They were not asked to consider Treaties. They were not asked to consider the consent of Indians in Canada. The ruling by the Supreme Court as far as we are concerned reaffirms our position. It strengthens our position, both legally and politically. They say that conventions are binding.Those agreements that establish relationships with Crown, British Parliament, Canada and the Provinces are binding. We have over 20 agreements with the Crown and we say that those agreements are more than binding.
In London, we are taking this position that the Prime Minister of the British Parliament is not bound by the court decision here in Canada neither is her Privy Council. Because the decision did not impact on Indians, it did not consider any issues in respect to the Indians of Canada and we were not a part of the court action. We say that the Supreme Court decision handed down is a domestic problem between the provinces and Canada here between the provinces and the Federal Government of Canada.
We have been doing a lot of work in London. We will discuss many of those specifics when the constitutional issue comes up on the agenda. But, I want to say first of all, we also caused an investigation into the activity in London, when they look at decolonizing a country. They have been decolonizing countries from their British Emperor since 1940 and here is what we found. When a country asked for its independence, British Parliament calls for an Independence Conference to be held at Lancaster House. At that Independence Conference they hear all groups on the position of providing independence to any country. What has clouded the issue here with respect to independence in Canada is that Trudeau and the rest of the schemers of the patriation process have used that patriation process as the scheme to cloud the issue of independence of Canada. Everybody's been concentrating on what we are going to do about patriation of the Canadian Constitution. The
By the end of October we should have the final documentation completed with respect to that action, if we have to go that route. So far, on the constitutional documentation we have completed the documents that discuss the First Nations, Confederate relationships here in Canada guaranteed under Treaty. We are now documenting the political trust and the legal trust obligations of the British Parliament. We are also documenting the Protectorate status and to continue the relationship with the Crown trust obligation. We do not have a specific title for the document, but it will probably be a title something like this: "Britain's Treaty Obligations to Indians in Saskatchewan."
We have restricted that to Saskatchewan because we have some difficulties with respect to discussions going across Canada and positions taken by Indian people on treaties and other parts. I have tried to give you the issues. I have tried to clarify our position on each of those issues and the direction that we are asking you to consider if you change direction in any of those areas. We must ask you to continue working towards the development of our Indian Government Institutions and we also ask those bands who are in administration to seriously look at replacing Indian Affairs guidelines, policies in your administration with Indian policy that can implement your decisions and the true form of Indian Government in your communities and in the province of Saskatchewan. Those are collective efforts we must make and we want to thank all the Chiefs and Bands for your continued support and I speak on behalf of the Senate, the Executive and the Reps. That we continue with the dialogue and the direction that is firm provided by yourselves, that gives us the confidence to address the issue provincially, nationally and internationally.
I want to say I just came from Anchorage, Alaska, I was invited to the National Congress of American Indians Convention, they have some 1,500 delegates at their convention over 150 tribes. One of the specific reasons I was up there, they wanted us to talk about the World Assembly of First Nations being hosted here in Saskatchewan in July 18-25, 1982. We also had the opportunity to meet with the World Council of Indigenous People and their President of South America. I am happy to report to you that both the World Council of Indigenous People and National Congress of American Indians have thrown their full support behind the hosting of the World Assembly of First Nations here in Saskatchewan, Canada for next year and we will give you more details when it comes up on the agenda.
Thank you very much for listening.