Chiefs decide to save FSIN

Staff ~ The Prince Albert Daily Herald
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By Jason Warick

The StarPhoenix

First Nations chiefs have passed resolutions which will keep the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) afloat for the coming year.

The lengthy process to find new ways to fund the FSIN was forced by the federal government’s announced cuts of $2-million.

“It’s going to be challenging, because we have to do more with less,” FSIN Chief Perry Bellegarde said.

Bellegarde said chiefs have chosen to maintain a strong provincial First Nations voice. He said they’ve chosen to resist continuing federal government attempts at “assimilation.”

Meeting for most of the day Wednesday at the Allan Bird Memorial Centre in Prince Albert, chiefs voted nearly unanimously to cut the salaries of the four vice-chiefs from $100,000 per year to $75,000. The $215,000 salary of FSIN Chief Perry Bellegarde remains unaffected, as it’s funded by the national Assembly of First Nations (AFN).

Chiefs also voted overwhelmingly to take $500,000 in casino revenue from the First Nations Trust.

There was a lengthy debate about whether to take money from the Treaty Rights Protection Fund (TRPF). Many outlined the integral role of the Treaty Fund on land rights, hunting and fishing and other issues. In the end, after the amount requested was reduced to $150,000, chiefs passed the resolution overwhelmingly.

The FSIN will also begin to charge fees to its member organizations such as the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology and First Nations University of Canada.

Bellegarde said there is much work to be done on multiple files, including the calls for an inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women.

“There’s so much injustice still in this land. The work’s got to continue,” Bellegarde said.

Bellegarde said the dream is to achieve total independence from government by tapping into “own-source revenues.” This will require fair agreements on resource revenue sharing, gaming and in other sectors. At that point, it may be time to change the FSIN’s name to something like Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, he said.

Chiefs had debated the FSIN funding question at the last assembly earlier this year at the Whitecap Dakota First Nation. After several hours of debate, it was decided to continue at Wednesday’s meeting.

Organizations: FSIN, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, Assembly of First Nations Treaty Rights Protection Fund First Nations Trust.There Treaty Fund Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology First Nations University of Canada.Bellegarde Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Whitecap Dakota First Nation

Geographic location: Prince Albert

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