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Both federal and provincial officials along with band members gathered in the shadows of Eagleview School to sign their historic land deal.
The deal closes a chapter which stretches back to the original 1876 native treaty rights.
But for 27 Saskatchewan Indian bands, those commitments weren't fulfilled until just recently. Onion Lake's Ray Whitstone says, "It's been a long hard road that is finally over for my people."
Other native leaders shared Whitstone's sentiments. Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chief Roland Crowe looked into the future and predicted a positive impact of Indian people. Crowe spoke of the historic agreement between two peoples; one here for decades and one here for a millennia.
"This agreement will allow us to expand our horizons, dreams and aspirations. It's a significant day where we now have equal opportunities.. a day we've waited a long time for."
The Onion Lake Band will receive $29.34 million over the next 11 years to purchase as much as 108,550 acres which would more than double its current size, Left over funds may then be used on such options as agriculture, industry, institutional or even tourism.
Provincial Treaty Commissioner Cliff Wright explained only the Pelican Lake and Keeseekoose bands have yet to ratify the historic agreement. But for Onion Lake, their destiny begins on this day.
"It's appropriate we're holding this ceremony next to this beautiful Eagleview School because what we're talking about here is the future and that future is bound up in the children who will benefit from this day."
Onion Lake Chief Joe Waskewitch says the possibilities are limited only by imagination and although the ratification process was often a tough one, in time, natives will reap the benefits. "It's truly a great day for Onion Lake and my People."
Photos by Len Gagne
Courtesy Meridian Booster
Onion Lake Treaty Land Entitlement Signing April 29,1994
The day - long ceremony featured FSIN, federal and provincial dignitaries to help celebrate the settling of the 120 year-old debt along with Elders, Chief and Council, and residents of the Onion Lake First Nation.
Traditional dancer Glen Littlewolf (top left) and his son Glen Jr., Onion Lake Elder (top right), Pipestone Creek Singers set spiritual tone (lower right), Chief Roland Crowe (lower left)