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Prince Albert Indian Student Residence Officially Reserve Land

Deanna Wuttunee

Chief and Council, Peter Ballantyne Band.
Chief and Council of the Peter Ballantyne Band

PRINCE ALBERT - The formal transfer of the Prince Albert Indian Student Residence was celebrated in a lavish extravaganza of food, remeniscing and tributes on November 22. The property within the city limits now has reserve land status following a probationary period. The Peter Ballantyne Band claimed the 41 acres in 1981 as part of its land entitlement.

Chief Ron Mitchell
Chief Ron Mitchell cuts ribbon

According to Chief Ron Mitchell of the Peter Ballantyne Reserve, over 340 students from northern Saskatchewan attend the school. He said, "Here, we can offer them the best education available today. The residence emphasizes the development of each child to his full potential. We offer a solid academic background, vocational skills and an excellent recreational and athletic program provided in a caring home environment. This is important because the child's performance is dependent on this. The school provides a model for the province and the rest of Canada."

"We must include in our school curriculum materials that emphasize Indian culture. Our heritage is something we can all be proud of and it can never be taken away. It is part of our identity. We retain our cultural identity in the face of many challenges and problems," he added.

Chronologically, since 1884, the land has been the headquarters of the R.C.M.P. during the Riel Rebellion, was converted to an army basic training centre in 1942 and finally purchased by the Anglican Church in 1948 for the purpose of establishing a residential school. Following an agreement with the federal government, the church provided homes and an education for children lost in forest fires in the Onion Lake and La Ronge area. Soon, children were recruited from Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba.

In the last decade, the leadership in Saskatchewan have taken steps to exercise control over the quality of education their children were receiving.

Prince Albert Indian Student Residence Officially Reserve Land

Deanne Wuttunee

Kids John Peters
Kids excited about transfer celebration John Peters from Sturgeon Lake. A trainee with Saskatchewan Training Institute with Will Inns has finished his short order cooking classes and will begin commercial cooking in October and finish in April. The institute prepared a fabulous feast for the celebration

Chief Ron Mitchell Chief Roy Bird
Chief Ron Mitchell, Peter Ballantyne Reserve Chief Roy Bird, Montreal Lake Reserve

Gary Wouters Dan Goodleaf
Gary Wouters, Director of operations (INAC) Sask. Region Dan Goodleaf, Regional Director General (INAC) Sask. Region

In 1974 the Prince Albert District Chiefs initiated negotiations to do this and in 1985 an agreement was reached with the Public School Board to rent the Queen Elizabeth School for an in-school program to be operated by the District Chiefs. They assumed complete control of operations in all aspects of the program.

"One of the real reasons we decided to take control under Indian jurisdiction was to reorganize the programming so that it will enhance Indian culture and Indian values and languages," said Chief Sol Sanderson.

All Indian residential schools in the province are now under Indian control.

Under the Chiefs of Saskatchewan, 400 students have graduated from Grade 12 annually in the last four years. Prior to 1973, Grade 9 graduates were almost non-existent. There are close to 1,000 students each year in university. Over 4,800 Indian people are employed in the field of education. Bands now own and operate schools, student residences, four colleges and have a number of educational institutions complementing the overall educational strategy.

It was the drive of past students of these residential schools that gave them the determination to change the quality and nature of the education system. But the road was often bumpy. Politics were intense and support often quiet, not active.

The celebration festivities gave tribute to the network that went unnoticed during the struggle; of people who worked long hours to make the official transfer of the P.A. Indian Student Centre under Indian jurisdiction a reality.

Chief Mitchell quoted an elder who said, "Let us put our minds together and see what kind of a life we can get for our children."

Singers from Sturgeon Lake
Singers from Sturgeon Lake