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Walter Dieter: 1916-1988

Walter Dieter Walter Perry Dieter died of cancer at the Regina General Hospital on Wednesday, September 7, 1988. He was 72.

Senator Dieter, a Cree Indian, was born May 31, 1916 on the Peepeekisis Reserve 135 kilometres southwest of Regina.

On completing his education, Senator Dieter joined the Regina Regiment during the Second World War. Shortly after his enlistment, Walter received a medical discharge. He spent four months in a tuberculosis sanitarium.

Walter renowned for his contributions and concerns towards the development and self-determination of his people, began his record of service in 1958, when he and his wife, lnez, were instrumental in laying down the foundation for the inauguration of the Saskatoon Friendship Centre.

In 1963, Walter became the first Indian President of the Regina Friendship Centre, serving in that capacity for a number of years.

Walter was chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations from 1966 to 1968. Under his leadership, the organization maintained a strong and unified voice in the protection of treaty rights. He attributes his success to men such as Senator's John Tootoosis, Hilliard McNabb, Henry Langham and Lawrence Thompson.

Walter found out groups of Ukrainian and Germans were getting grants of $1 ,000 each for projects. He acquired a grant from ARDA, the forerunner to the present Special ARDA program to organize conferences and meetings. Walter managed to get six people out in the field at $100 per month.

At this time in his on-going struggle to improve the social conditions of his people, Dieter advocated representation of native people on all the advisory boards possible, both federally and provincially. To boost the almost non-existent employment opportunities for his people, Dieter negotiated with former premier, Ross Thatcher for a five percent hiring policy of Indian and Metis people within the provincial government. He was also instrumental in designing the first plans for the native controlled metal industry in Regina.

When Dieter left the FSIN in 1968, he was given a mandate to organize a national Indian body. He went on to establish the National Indian Brotherhood which later became the Assembly of First Nations.

In 1969, with Dieter at the helm, the brotherhood unified in opposition the White Paper policy on Indian assimilation proposed by Indian Affairs. In 1966, Walter was appointed Chairman of the Canadian Council serving in this capacity for thirteen years until the Council was dissolved in 1982.

Dieter returned to Saskatchewan in 1970 and together with a few friends formed the Native Alcohol Council devised and established rehabilitation centres for native people within their own communities. Today, there are NAC centres in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Walter returned to his reserve in Peepeekisis where he served as a Band Council Member.

In 1973, Senator Dieter played a lead role in designing the then new, Special ARDA program.

Since 1978, Walter has been an FSIN advisor and was one of the five chosen to represent native concerns to the British Parliament in July 1979, during the Saskatchewan chiefs trip to England.

He was honored with Canada's highest distinction in 1980 with an appointment to the Order of Canada. The Order of Canada is this country's highest distinction to recognize outstanding achievements and service to fellow citizens or to humanity at large.

He was involved with the Saskatchewan Indian Veteran's Association as well as his senate duties.

Dieter is survived by five daughters, a son and his wife, Inez.

Walter Perry Dieter was laid to rest on the Okanese Reserve on Sunday, September 11, 1988.