Image courtesy of Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre

A former chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, the forerunner to the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, is among this year’s recipients of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit.

Roland Crowe has spent most of his career as a councillor and chief of the Piapot First Nation and later as vice chief and chief of the FSIN. He says he was surprised when he got the call from the province’s protocol officer about the award.

Crowe says during his years of service to his community and the FSIN, there was one thing he longed for and that was seeing his people prosper. Crowe had a small farm in the late 70’s, and he says one day he was looking over the fence at his neighbors off the reserve and thought, “Why couldn’t our people have more land to farm? Why couldn’t we get the land we were promised in the treaties?” he says. He says that the idea of treaty land entitlement at that time was perceived as a false rainbow, and that it would never come to fruition.

Crowe and former FSIN Chief Sol Sanderson helped spearhead the negotiations on treaty land entitlement, which resulted in the historic 1992 Treaty Land Entitlement Agreement, resulting in the addition of 1.6 million acres to First Nations land base.

He was also instrumental in working out an agreement on gaming with the province resulting in 1,800 jobs, over 1,100 of which were First Nations people, in the gaming industry and major wealth creation for First Nations.

Crowe says he will proudly hang the Order of Merit on a wall in house as a reminder of the things he wanted to do for people in his community and First Nations people in the province.

He says that every morning when he got up, he used to look in the mirror and ask what he could do for the people who don’t have land, or a job, or their kids go to bed hungry every night.

“When I went to bed, I would ask myself, did I ever accomplish anything or get anything in place?” he adds.

A ceremony will be held this fall in Regina with the lieutenant governor presiding.