The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations continues to explore ways of making up a $2 million funding deficit.

The funding shortfall is the result of cutbacks by the Harper government.

Saskatchewan Tribal Council Vice-Chief Mark Arcand is part of a committee tasked with looking at options the FSIN could pursue to make up the shortfall.

Speaking at the fall assembly on Wednesday, he says it has been difficult to get agreement on where cuts should be made or new sources of revenue found.

“When we talk about unity, we didn’t have unity inside of that group and that’s just being honest,” he says.

One option that is on the table is cutting the number of vice-chiefs in the organization from four to two.

Chief Perry Bellegarde says reducing the number of vice-chiefs in the FSIN is certainly not optimal but if it comes to that, so be it.

“The FSIN will always be around, it will always operate, no question,” he says. “Whether it’s with one chief and no vice-chiefs, or there’s a chief and four vice-chiefs or a chief and two vice-chiefs, we’ll operate, no question.”

The FSIN will discuss options for making up the shortfall again when the organization meets for its next assembly in February in Lloydminster.

This assembly will be hosted by the Battlefords Tribal Council.

Financial statements show that for the fiscal year ending Mar. 31, the FSIN will be running a deficit of $637,812 and a net debt of $847,118.

Three new senators were also sworn in at the fall assembly on Wednesday – Harry Cook of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, Earl Ermine of Sturgeon Lake First Nation and Pat Johnstone of Mistawasis First Nation.

Delegates will also elect two vice-chiefs on Thursday.

Incumbent Bobby Cameron of Witchekan First Nation and Jeremy Fourhorns of Piapot First Nation are running for second vice-chief.

Robin McLeod of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band and Heather Bear of Ochapowace First Nation are vying for fourth vice-chief.

The two-day fall assembly is being held at Teachers’ Credit Union Place in Saskatoon.