Whitecap Dakota First Nation took a step toward self-governance near Saskatoon.
Officials signed an agreement-in-principle which could eventually grant greater power over the decisions that affect the community.
Chief Darcy Bear, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs and members of the Whitecap Council signed the agreement Wednesday.
Chief Bear says the goal is to first get out from under what he calls the dictatorship rule that is the Indian Act, and self-governance will accomplish that.
Bear says the next part has already begun with the implementation of the First Nation Land Management Act, which gave the First Nation control over their lands.
“It allows us to self-govern our land and move at the speed of business,” said Chief Bear. “And just that change alone – when you look around the Whitecap – we used to have 70-percent unemployment. Now its 5-percent. We have 500 people commuting from Saskatoon daily to come work in our community. So, when First Nations get the legislated capacity to be part of the economy, everyone benefits.”
Whitecap Dakota First Nation now needs to negotiate a final deal with the federal government, get approval from residents, and then self-governance can be achieved.