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Fsin Assembly Dealing With The Failed Constitutional Accord:
Gambling Issue Sparks Debate

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      NOVEMBER 1992      v21 n08 p01  
Only two days before the Chiefs of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) gathered in Saskatoon on October 28, the Canadian people had rejected the Charlottetown Accord in referendum. Many chiefs present considered the rejection of the Accord, which had only been reached two months before, to be a major setback, but felt they had suffered setbacks before and they had to press ahead nonetheless. FSIN Chief Roland Crowe said "Even though the process may have failed us, the principles are now well in place and we will live to fight another day."

Recently Assembly of First Nations' chief Ovide Mercredi's leadership has come under attack, much to the dismay of many Saskatchewan Indian chiefs. To demonstrate their continuing support for the national chief, a resolution was passed which "reaffirms our strong support for National AFN Chief Ovide Mercredi" and other First Nations leaders "in defending our Treaty and Inherent rights."

Another resolution was passed which symbolically reasserted the rights which the Chiefs felt would have been entrenched in the constitution had the Charlottetown accord been passed.

But business got bogged down when the issue of gambling casinos came to the floor. A resolution was tabled which suggested to some Chiefs that the FSIN would take over ownership of casinos operating on reserve lands. FSIN Chief Crowe explained that there was an urgent need to pursue discussions with the province on regulating the casinos, and wanted a mandate to discuss revenue sharing amongst the reserves with such gaming facilities.

Muskeg Lake Band Chief Harry Lafond came prepared for this with a paper which said "...no body or organization that exists beyond the direct authority of the Chief and Council can reasonably assert a right to govern, or to regulate in any self-government jurisdiction. This must include gaming as much as it includes health and education." He explained later that his band is not opposed to the idea of sharing, but only wanted to determine themselves the basis of the sharing.

The resolution was passed with modification to allow the FSIN to establish an Indian gaming commission and pursue discussion with the province.

The Chiefs in assembly also mandated the FSIN executive to pursue Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's commitment in the Charlottetown Accord to the bilateral treaty process to clarify and implement Canada's treaty obligations.

Ovide Mercredi
Ovide Mercredi recieves vote of confidence.

The FSIN executive has also been mandated to pressure the provincial government to increase the amount of assistance for grandparents who act as the guardians for their grandchildren to levels equal to assistance provided to other foster parents.

Once they had finished the substantial business, they did some "housecleaning" before they commenced with the business of electing their new executive.