A First Nation in Manitoba is very close to completing the first self-government agreement on the prairies.
Aboriginal Affairs minister Bernard Valcourt says the agreement with the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation had passed third reading.
Once complete it will allow the band to make its own laws without seeking the approval of the Aboriginal Affairs minister, something every First Nation on the prairies currently has to do.
Bruce Slusar is the lawyer who helped negotiate the deal, he says it’s a ground-breaking deal:
“What’s significant here is that along with the agreement with Canada, there is an accompanying tripartite agreement involving the province of Manitoba where the province of Manitoba endorses the bilateral agreement with Canada.”
He notes the stand-alone deal doesn’t accompany a land-claim, it’s simply self-government.
Meanwhile the chief of the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, Vincent Tacan, says the deal will enable the band to move faster on issues that concern them:
“Well it allows us to create a business environment so hopefully we’re going to attract people in who are willing to invest in our community and employ our people.”
The chief says the old system was far too cumbersome:
“The chances of getting a bylaw passed are pretty much nil and the other aspect of this whole thing is you need Aboriginal Affairs cooperation to get any accounting, development or businesses going.”
Slusar has been negotiating the deal since 2004:
“It’s a great day”, he says.
The Manitoba government is also signing off on the deal, it should be complete by next summer.