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SICC History

The Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre (SICC) has served First Nations people since 1972. It was the first First Nations controlled educational institution serving at the provincial level. Our mission statement is to strengthen and support the overall First Nations education and cultural awareness of First Nations People. The Centre also promotes cross-cultural awareness of First Nations people’s historic and current role in Canadian society. We provide a First Nations resource base for bands and school systems to draw upon so the First Nations children may inherit the values and traditions of their heritage. Extensive research is also conducted and facilitated on First Nations heritage and culture. Above all, the Centre strives to respect and promote the Inherent sovereignty of First Nations and their governments as recognized by the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and confirmed by the Treaties and constitutional relationships.
 
The SICC is an institution of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN). The history of FSIN dates back to our veterans. Many First Nations men had enlisted to go into battle during World War I, despite the fact that their Treaties exempted them from having to serve in any of Great Britain's conflicts. For most of them, their service overseas was the first taste of life beyond the Indian Act. However, their freedom was short lived. Those who survived the war returned to find that nothing had changed. These young men were denied benefits given to other Veterans and were still expected to submit to the existing government policy. Their experiences overseas however had opened their eyes to their common problems of poor living conditions and government bureaucracy. As a result, things began to change significantly in First Nations politics.

A Mohawk Indian by the name of Lieutenant Frederick Loft sought an audience with the Privy Council and the King of England regarding the serious problems facing First Nations people throughout Canada. Both the Privy Council and the King encouraged Lt. Loft to organize his cause and upon his return to Canada. He did just that.

In 1919, Lt. Loft became instrumental in the establishment of the Indian League of Canada situated in Ontario. Its constitution was subsequently passed and adopted. The first goal of the League was to protect the rights of all First Nations people in Canada.
 
In 1921, the Annual Congress of the Indian League of Canada was held at the Thunderchild First Nation in Saskatchewan. For many of the Saskatchewan delegates who attended and participated, it was their first experience with organized Indian politics on a broad scale. John Tootoosis of the Poundmaker First Nation was one of the delegates at this meeting. During this time period, Tootoosis became extensively involved in these political changes.
 
In 1929, the Indian League of Canada was renewed in the Treaty #6 area and became known as the League of Indians of Western Canada. John Tootoosis became the first president of this regional organization. Residential schools and land issues were considered to be the key concerns of the day.
 
At approximately the same time the League of Indians of Western Canada was making inroads in Saskatchewan, a group of Treaty #4 First Nations; Pasqua, Piapot, and Muscowpetung, formed the Allied Bands. The leaders; Ben Pasqua, Andrew Gordon, Pat Cappo, Charles Pratt, Harry Ball and Abel Watetch joined together to express their displeasure over the Soldier Settlement Act. Under this federal legislation, First Nation veterans were eligible for land just like non-First Nation soldiers. However, the land allocated for First Nation veterans came from existing reserves. As a result, the First Nations land base was being eroded and many people were beginning to voice their concern. The Allied Bands soon expanded into the Fort Qu'Appelle area becoming the Saskatchewan Treaty Protection Association.
 
In 1933, the organization again changed its name to better reflect its mandate, becoming the Protective Association for Indians and their Treaties. They adopted the mandate to protect Treaty Rights, Indian Lands and Resources and to work for better education in schools on reserve.
 
In 1943, another First Nation organization was formed in Saskatchewan. The new group, the Association of Saskatchewan Indians led by Joe Dreaver, quickly became one of the largest in the province.
 
In 1946, First Nation political organizations took a major step forward when then Premier of Saskatchewan, T.C. Douglas became involved. Premier Douglas was concerned about the plight of First Nations people in Saskatchewan. He was interested in helping to unite the three major First Nations organizations in the province. A 1946 meeting of the League of Indians of Western Canada was convened at Duck Lake, Saskatchewan. Henry John of the Protective Association and Joe Dreaver of the Association of Saskatchewan Indians were both invited to attend. The issue of amalgamating the three provincial organizations was discussed at great length during the Duck Lake meeting. The consensus was that one collective, provincial voice would help unify the Saskatchewan First Nations position. Later that year a second meeting on this issue was held at the Barry Hotel in Saskatoon. It was at this meeting that the three provincial First Nation organizations joined forces to become the Union of Saskatchewan Indians. The delegates elected John Tootoosis as President, John Gambler as Vice-President and subsequently passed a new constitution.
 
The Union of Saskatchewan Indians identified the following goals:
 
  • The protection of Treaties and Treaty Rights;
  • The fostering of progress in economic, educational and social endeavours of First Nation people;
  • Co-operation with civil and religious authorities;
  • Constructive criticism and thorough discussion on all matters;
  • The adherence to democratic procedure; and,
  • The promotion of respect and tolerance for all people.
 
In 1958, the Saskatchewan First Nations organizations became the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians (FSI). The following year the structure of the FSI was determined. For more than two decades, the FSI worked towards fulfilling its mandate, which was centered on the protection of Treaties and Treaty Rights. Significant progress was made in a number of areas.
 
In 1972, new inroads were made in education with a national policy paper that called for "Indian Control of Indian Education". Shortly after, band controlled schools were established to replace residential schools. The FSI also established various institutions such as the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College (now the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre) in 1972 as a teaching institution.
 
About the FSIN

Many of the culture and traditions of First Nations people in Saskatchewan flow from the teachings and practices of our forefathers and Elders of today. Our forefathers, who entered into Treaties with the Crown, did so with the intention of establishing mutually beneficial arrangements between the Crown and First Nations. The Chiefs and Headsmen who negotiated the Treaties also had the wisdom and forethought to provide for our generation and those yet to come. The FSIN represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan and is committed to honouring the Spirit and Intent of the Treaties as well as the promotion, protection and implementation of Treaties that were made with the First Nations more than a century ago.
 
The goals and objectives of the FSIN are:
 
  • The protection of Treaties and Treaty Rights;
  • The fostering of progress in economic, educational and social endeavours of First Nation people;
  • Co-operation with civil and religious authorities;
  • Constructive criticism and thorough discussion on all matters;
  • The adherence to democratic procedure; and,
  • The promotion of respect and tolerance for all people.

E-mail: info@sicc.sk.ca

Phone: (306) 244-1146