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Onion Lake - A Community Profile

Archie King

Administration Centre
Administration Centre:Band Office occupies the right, and Heath Centre the left portions of the building.

Leo Paul and Joe Waskewitch
Chief and asistant:
Leo Paul and Joe Waskewitch (right)
pause for a picture.

ONION LAKE - This Indian community is the largest reserve in the North Battleford District, both in population and size. It is situated about 25 kilometres north of Lloydminster, the border city. Also, the reserve is situated on the border.

The current band council is headed by Leo Paul, who is serving his first term. Chief Paul was elected during a by-election following the resignation of former Chief Pat Dillon, and later was successful during a band election. Other members of the band council include Gus Waskewitch, Wallace Fox, Donald Cardinal, Lloyd Chief, Peter Chief, Morris Lewis, Joe Dillon, Ed Chief, Albert Waskewitch, and three vacant offices.

During an interview, Chief Paul was optimistic in the direction the band was heading. "We have just signed a gas lease agreement and we have invested the money in real estate. We plan to establish a training centre and a mall there later on," said Chief Paul.


According to the Chief, the band has taken advantage of the CMHC housing and some have running water in their houses. Families are charged a fee according to their income. Some of the housing was not completed on time, but this was due to the lack of building material.


The band is operating a cow-calf operation and also farms land for band members. According to the ranch manager, this ranch feeds about 210 head of cattle and also farms about 1,500 acres, said Jack Chocan.

Just recently the band signed a gas lease agreement and are looking at real estate holdings outside the community.

According to Chief Paul, "We are shifting more into economic development for we have established a corporation which meet the requirements for government incentives and also adjust to meet the requirements of the federal and provincial governments.

"We administer 10 to 11 million dollars, but 90 per cent of this goes out the community and we hope to recycle the money in the community. Faced with 70% of the band members unemployed and 80% of them on welfare, we are trying to change this," said Chief Paul.


The band operates two group homes with a total of 20 kids. Some of the kids come from broken families, abandoned children and problem kids from the community.

Also the band operates an elders lodge with a capacity of six family units. Some of the elders in the centre are from outside of the community while the majority are pensioners from the community.

Situated on the reserve is also the drop-in centre, a service to the alcoholic, family crisis, youth group, and a place to share a cup of coffee or tea.


A total of three schools are situated on the reserve. Situated at the former residential school site is the RC school. Total enrolment is 200 students from nursery to grade three.

Onion Lake - A Community Profile

Archie King

At the other end of the reserve is the AC school with a enrolment of 120 students from nursery to grade three. Situated at the center of the reserve is the Chief Taylor High School. A total of 375 students attend grades four to twelve.

According to Sid Paul, superintendent of education, the community probably runs the largest school operation of any Indian reserve in the province. The education staff consists of 40 professionals, 10 paraprofessionals, three counsellors, one director, and one superintendent.

Also occupying the former administration centre is the Lakeland Community College. A total of 12 students are enrolled in a Business Administration course. This year marks the final year of the course. It is expected the band will be employing the graduates.

Feeding cattle
Feeding cattle at the Triple O Ranch.

Jackie Chocan
Jackie Chocan, ranch manager.
Henry and Arlene Lewis with kids
Henry and Arlene Lewis with some of their kids.

Elders having coffee

Elders and visitors having coffee.

One of two group homes.

Top: One of two group homes.
Bottom: Elders Lodge.

Elders Lodge

Onion Lake - A Community Profile

Archie King


The community boasts of its minor hockey system. Many of the youngsters go on to play for the senior hockey team, Border Chiefs. The team were members of the Sask./Alta. Hockey League. Much of their success is due to the construction of its arena - Seekaskootch. The driving force behind the building of the arena was an RCMP officer, who was stationed on the reserve for a number of years.

Also the sponsorship of a rodeo plays a major role in the community's recreation program. The annual event takes place at its location, the recreation centre of the community. Many of its local boys participate during the rodeo including the running of the chuckwagon outfit by Henry and Raymond Whitstone.

The band is pursuing selfsufficiency in a number of years. "We have a powerful technical unit, trainers, economic developer worker and computer worker, all highly educated and we co-ordinate the approach, hopefully to create 300 to 400 jobs," said Chief Paul.

Regarding the passage of Bill C-31 granting band membership to Indian women marrying non-Indians, "We have some band members being accepted by Ottawa, but they have been ones that have married out and this is a very touchy subject. We have started working on our membership code," said Chief Paul.

Recreation Centre
Recreation Centre:Hockey arena and curling arena(front)-home of the Border Chiefs.

Chief Taylor High School
Chief Taylor High School.

Albert Jimmy and assistants
Accounting Staff: Albert Jimmy and assistants.