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During an interview, Chief Bear said, "After a lot of meetings and negotiations, I always made sure this agreement would not interfere with our Treaty rights. With this Agreement in place, it makes is more accountable and more responsible to administer programs to meet the needs of our own band members rather than Indian Affairs".
Master of Ceremonies, Walter Bear, introduced invited guests and band staff. Fifth Vice-Chief Alvin Head brought greetings on behalf of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and said alternate funding will allow their band members to be financially independent. A lot of bands will be looking at their developments and benefits.
Hon. Bernard Valcourt presented Chief Bear with a plaque on behalf of the Government of Canada. He commended the Chief and Council for entering into this new fiscal arrangement, giving them a greater measure of authority and accountability. Alex Pinter, regional manager spoke to the students in attendance as future leaders of the John Smith Band.
Rod King, heard Chief Bear say many times, "If only I could move dollars around". They now have control over their own funding.
Also present were Cliff Starr, manager for Saskatoon District, along with Harvey Schmidt and Murray Petrie from Band management and Vi Fiddler for Reserves and Trusts.
Deputy Chief George Cameron of Beardy's presented Chief Bear with a plaque on behalf of his band.
Chief Joe Quewezance from Nut Lake is looking forward to seeing how everything turns out. He noted John Smith has always played a leading role, first being the first in Canada to take over land management. This marks another historic event.
Chief Bear said the Welfare program is not in the Agreement but they would be prepared to look at the possibility to include it in two years time, because he feels they are not ready to take it over. One thing Chief Bear likes about this arrangement is that he can opt out of it with 30 days notice. He also sees this as an opportunity to transfer funds to complete the water system on his reserve and plan an extension to the Band office.
The one negative aspect of AFA is the administration dollars are not included in the budget. With the downsizing of Indian Affairs man-years are being transferred to other departments and not to the band level.
The AgreementThe main advantages of AFN agreements are:
- The accountability of Chief and Council to band members is enhanced;
- Band may modify and redesign federal funded programs in ways more appropriate to community needs and priorities;
- Bands have the flexability to transfer funds between programs; with the excetion that capital funding cannot be applied to cover operating and maintanence costs;
- Agreement for periods up to five years are posssible, allowing for sound financial and management and,
- The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development remains unaccountable to parliament.