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Year end Update from the desk of Milton Tootoosis, Headman, Poundmaker Cree Nation

Top Ten Action Items Update –  for Quarter ending December 31, 2017

  1. Governance & Finance

Effective governance is a key pillar to Nation Rebuilding. The Governance Committee will be called to reset the process of researching and collaborating to find common language and definitions for our own laws based on our culture, customs and practices. There are existing draft documents to be reviewed (Election and Citizenship).

The Matrimonial and Real Property on Reserves Act process for PCN is underway. There have been several consultations before the Christmas break and a few more are planned for Jan/Feb/2018. Be sure to check the web site and Band Office for posters with the dates/locations.

A Comprehensive Community Planning process is projected to start in April 2018 pending funding allocation from the federal government.

The Management Action Plan (MAP) is a process to monitor and improve the fiscal condition of the Nation. The committee, which meets quarterly, includes reps from the C & C, INAC and the RBC. The good news is spending in under-funded areas is generally under control. The bad news is there is still a growing need for more financial resources as the nation’s population expands (1,700+). The pressure to find or create alternative financial resources is real and our greatest challenge.

  1. Health & Safety

No satisfactory responses have been received to date from the Saskatchewan government regarding the Cut Knife Pharmacy’s loss of a contract to provide medicine to the long-term health care home in town. The Prairie North Health Region is now under the management of the new Saskatchewan Health Authority.

We will continue to monitor and respond to the ongoing threat and erosion of our treaty rights to the ‘medicine chest.’

There is a need for an independent evaluation of the impacts of the Battle River Treaty Six Health Centre and its mandate to deliver basic health care services for the Poundmaker Cree Nation.  With a growing on reserve population there is potential for expanded health care services on the reserve (e.g. Onion Lake Cree Nation). The PCN population now exceeds seventeen hundred (1,700+) and the demands for housing, education and healthcare will also rise.

The Saskatchewan First Nations Safety Association will be accessed as a resource to help PCN develop a Community Public Safety Policy.

  1. Lands

Husky Energy Oil Spill 2016 – The Saskatchewan First Nations Natural Resource Centre of Excellence (COE) lead the independent assessment report of the North Saskatchewan River differs from Husky Energy’s report that 93% of their oil has been recovered from the NSR. There will a meeting called in early 2018 by the Saskatchewan First Nations Centre of Excellence to discuss strategy.

Concerns by citizens about the ongoing use of chemicals on crops and the environmental and health impacts. Financial resources and partner institutions to assist in the process will be scoped out.

The lack of an updated land code is an obvious weakness in our customary law system. This has been raised several times during the MRPA consultation sessions. The lack of clear law and policy has resulted in unresolved conflicts with a few families. We urgently need to address this very soon and define a  conflict resolution process that is fair and equitable. We must resolve this matter internally and maintain the control internally within the nation.

The On-Reserve Cultural Site Documentation Services project with the First Nations Technical Services Advisory Group (TSAG) continues to make progress with the goal to ensure PCN has documented knowledge on the locations of culturally important sites as a step towards protecting the lands during industrial and commercial developments.

The Pine Island Project proposal is a partnership with the Prairie Steamship Heritage Association. The search for funding to finance this project is in progress. The project plan is to launch an expedition into the depths of the North Saskatchewan River to potentially find rifles, axes and other artifacts from the historic battle of May 2, 1885.  A tour of Pine Island for the elders is planned for the early summer 2018.

  1. Gangs and Drugs Prevention and Intervention Strategy

A drug abuse crisis is affecting many First Nations across Indian country, both on the reserves and in the cities.

We participated in the “Walk Against Drugs” in the fall to raise awareness. The walk from Chief Poundmaker School to Little Pine School included students, staff and elected leaders from both First Nations.

A meeting has been held in late November in Regina with senior officials with Health Canada to address the critical need for funding to begin work on a prevention strategy for PCN. The talks continue as we strive to secure some financial resources for the 2018-2019 budget cycle.

We plan to create our own PCN Task Force to come up with solutions, an action plan focussing on prevention and intervention.

  1. Justice

There are ongoing talks underway to review the current policing agreement we have with the RCMP and to plan for changes as the current agreement expires in 2018.

  1. Livelihood & Community Economic Development

The partnership with Major Projects Group Canada Inc. has lead to exciting outsourcing developments as a business ready supplier of services for the construction, energy, renewable energy, manufacturing, mining and forestry sectors. Connections have also been initiated with the information technology and the agriculture sector as well as other First Nation owned business development corporations to explore potential partnerships. The end goal is to diversify our investments at low risk and to earn a sustainable rate of return with the profits returning to the PCN.

The PCN Arts Co-operative for the artisans made the inaugural appearance at the Lloydminster Christmas Expo on Nov. 17-19.  The huge show exposed our entrepreneurs to the broader market place. There were over three hundred exhibitors and over twenty-five thousand Christmas shoppers during the three-day event. We will assess the experience and plan for a Co-operatives First Workshop in early 2018.

The renewal of the Chief Poundmaker Museum and Historic Site as a cultural tourism destination season is over and its time to evaluate, take the lessons learned and plan for the upcoming 2018 season.

Adult upgrading is being delivered by the North-West Regional College on the main reserve. Other training programs are being coordinated by Patricia Waskewitch in partnership with external organizations.

Commercial development of P2 lands needs further research, exploration, planning and infrastructure development. The close proximity of the P2 lands to the Battlefords is a sleeping opportunity.

We were active participants of the Economic Partnership Summit in Lloydminster that was held on Oct. 12, 2017.

We were active participants of the First Nations Power Authority sponsored Western Canadian Indigenous Renewable Energy Forum in Saskatoon on November 15 and the Indigenous Ag Summit in Regina on November 21-22, 2017.

  1. Culture

The PCN traditional pow wow is planned for 2018. Top priority is to fundraise. Watch for planning meeting notices.

A unique educational partnership with the U of S Indigenous Studies department has been established which will result in a cultural camp at the lake with students from the USA, Australia and across Canada.

The Chief Poundmaker Museum building is operational during the winter months and will be used for various projects year-round. It has the potential to be the hub for cultural activity during the off-summer months.

Cultural appropriation – use of the Poundmaker name is a concern (e.g. Poundmaker’s Lodge, Pound-Maker Ag Ventures, in fictional performing arts, museums, etc.).

The nêhiyawêwin language retention continues to be a concern. It is recommended we declare a state of emergency. Within the language are concepts and terms that are the core foundation of our culture.

  1. Treaty Rights & Claims

The ongoing information flowing from the advocacy work of the AFN, FSIN and Treaties 1-11 is available for those interested. There are many credible sources available online as well.

We will continue to attend the Treaty 1-11 gatherings whenever possible to stay on top of the pressing challenges that impact our inherent rights.

We attended a Treaty Six Workshop at Onion Lake in late November. There will be follow-up workshops in locations TBD. The focus is on ‘action’ and to take the lessons learned from the previous leaders’ decades of work in treaty protection and implementation.

The Rebellion Bands Annuity Claim is near completion. A meeting to update on the status of this settlement and plan forward will be called soon.

The Cows and Plows (agricultural) claim is in very early stages of development.

The oil and gas drainage claim (PCN and Onion Lake Cree Nation vs Canada) is in early stages of development.

The constant threat and erosion of our inherent treaty rights is for real. We rely on the AFN, FSIN and Treaty 1-11 organizations and online topic expert resources for their political, legal analysis and strategies for action.

There is some hope with the introduction of Bill C-262 (Implementation of the UNDRIP) by MP Romeo Saganash.

Other Bills to watch: Bill C-45/46 (legalization of Cannabis by summer 2018) – There is a National Working Group (AFN) that is mandated to address education and public awareness, impaired driving and workplace safety, public health, revenues, economic development, social, jurisdiction, justice.

  1. Reconciliation

The C & C announced (during the grand re-opening of the Chief Poundmaker Museum in July) the demand by PCN for Canada to exonerate Chief Poundmaker of treason as an act of justice and reconciliation. An online campaign to exonerate Chief Poundmaker of treason has been started. To date, there are over 3,000 (three thousand) signed petitions ( The goal is to posthumously clear our famous leaders’ name as an act of justice and reconciliation. There has been good radio, news print and TV coverage.

We continue to lobby the leadership of the cities of Lloydminster and North Battleford as we collectively spend a lot of money there and we need to start seeing these cities and their businesses employ more of our people.

We are participants of an Office of the Treaty Commissioner lead Lloydminster Reconciliation project.

  1. International/National Policy Issues

It is important to stay up to date with broader issues impacting First Nations across Indian County. The main challenges facing all First Nations across Canada, as discussed at the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Meeting in Ottawa in early December, included: Legalization of Cannabis, UNDRIP, Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Creation of Indigenous Services and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs (formerly INAC), North American Free Trade Agreement, Youth Council, Elders Council, Women’s Council, Health, Education, Law and Policy Review, Fiscal Relations Final Report, AFN/Canada MOU on Joint Priorities, Gord Downie and Charlie Wenjack Fund, Environment and Fisheries, Housing-National Housing Strategy, First Nations Labour Market, Jordan’s Principle, Community Safety/Policing/Justice, Languages Legislation, Protocol Agreement with Indigenous leaders from Ecuador, Heart and Stroke Foundation; Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, North American Indigenous Games/World Indigenous Nations Games, Chronic Wasting Disease. Numerous resolutions were discussed and debated.

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Pursuing Inclusive Growth Through Skills And Innovation | The Huffington Post

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Pursuing Inclusive Growth Through Skills And Innovation | The Huffington Post

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Pursuing Inclusive Growth Through Skills And Innovation | The Huffington Post

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TransAlta commits to coal phase-out years ahead of government deadline – The Globe and Mail

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Canada’s clean-tech sector in dire financial need: report – The Globe and Mail

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No safe use: The Canadian asbestos epidemic that Ottawa is ignoring

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