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John Smith Band Signs AFA Funding Agreement

On Tuesday, November 17, men, women, children, and members of the John Smith Band gathered at the Muskoday Band office to witness Chief Everette Bear and his five councilors sign a three year Alternate Funding Agreement with Hon. Bernard Valcourt, Minister of State, representing Her Majesty the Queen. The Band is the second band in Saskatchewan and the third across Canada to take the initiative to move from administration to management.

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.

Bernard Valcourt and Chief Everette Bear
The Hon. Bernard Valcourt and Chief Everette Bear sign A.F.N. Agreement

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 Agreement
       The main advantages of AFN agreements are: