FSIN Chief Candidates Share Views

Friday, October 09, 2009 at 14:30



Candidates for the top elected position in the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations spoke Thursday at an all candidates’ forum in North Battleford.


All four candidates for chief of the FSIN spoke during the Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs’ annual general meeting.


Muskowekwan chief Reg Bellerose says meetings with government officials would be done very differently if he’s elected chief of the FSIN.


He says federal and provincial politicians would meet with First Nations at the community level, as right now, communities have to go through too many hoops to get government bureaucrats or politicians to listen to them.


“We’ve got to get a process in place where provincial and federal ministers, cabinet, premier (and) prime ministers sit before our First Nation government. Right now, there’s so many steps away for me as a chief as the community level,” Bellerose says.


If elected chief, he would speak for the First Nations leadership, and those leaders would speak for their people.


Lawrence Joseph says if he’s re-elected chief of the FSIN, his number one priority will be improving housing for First Nations, referring to “the treaty right to shelter.”


Joseph said Aboriginal people of all ages require more and better housing, both on- and off-reserve, and he’s especially concerned about elders and their need for proper housing.


He also wants to set up a proper framework to oversee gaming.


He says that’s the key to a more prosperous life for Aboriginal people.


Guy Lonechild says the treaty rights to education and health will be his top priority if he becomes chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations.


He says the treaty right to education at all levels, especially post-secondary, and access to good health services are key for First Nations people, in terms of “restoring culture and restoring our identity and who we are.”


Lonechild says if elected, he would restructure the First Nations University of Canada and other educational institutions.


He says changes are needed to make sure graduates of those institutions have the best possible education.

That way, he says, they’ll be in a strong position to compete for jobs.


Red Pheasant chief Sheldon Wuttunee said the duty to consult issue isn’t getting the attention from governments that it deserves, and if elected chief, he’d change that.


He said he’d also work to get a better deal for First Nations on resource revenue sharing.


According to Wuttunee, First Nations also need a better deal when it comes to child and family services.


He said First Nations also need to be more outspoken to protect their citizenship rights.


The new chief will be chosen on Oct. 29, during the FSIN legislative assembly in Saskatoon.