Whitecap Dakota First Nation to become first self governing Indigenous nation in Saskatchewan

By Julia Peterson

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

With an overwhelming majority, members of Whitecap Dakota First Nation have voted to become a self-governing Indigenous nation, the first in Saskatchewan.

 

Now, the First Nation will adopt its constitution, and Chief Darcy Bear and his council will sign a governance agreement with Canada.

 

It will join 78 other self-governing First Nations across Canada.

Only one other, Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, in Manitoba, is in the prairies.

 

As a self-governing First Nation, the Chief and council will have more legislative power. The First Nation will also no longer be under the control of the Indian Act.

 

“I am very thankful to our members and their commitment to move the Whitecap Dakota Nation forward as a self-governing nation that is no longer under the control of an outdated Indian Act,” Bear said in a statement.

 

“In approving our Constitution, we are asserting our inherent rights and establishing broader law-making powers and fiscal certainty to continue to build our nations.

 

“Our lessons to date have taught us that taking more control over our affairs such as land management have paid incredible dividends in economic and social growth in our community.”

 

The First Nation and the Canadian government have spent a decade negotiating a new governance agreement, and a fiscal relationship agreement, that will help map out the relationship.

 

After the vote, in which 92 per cent of members expressed their desire to become a self-governing nation, federal minister of Crown-Indigenous relations Marc Miller offered his congratulations.

 

“This is an important step for Whitecap in moving away from the Indian Act, implementing their inherent right to self-determination and seeing a better future for their community,” he wrote in a statement.

 

The new government structure is intended to take effect next fall.

 

 Julia Peterson is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the

THE STARPHOENIX. The LJI program is federally funded.

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