More work needed with provincial, federal government in 2014, says Perry Bellegarde
Reported by Kelly Malone
NewsTalk 980 CJME (Regina)
The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) had a busy year with economic development initiatives and large profits with the Saskatchewan Indian Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA).
FSIN Chief Perry Bellegarde said that SIGA profits between $84 million and $85 million dollars was a highlight of 2013.
"SIGA continues to be a shining jewel amongst First Nation People and everybody in Saskatchewan," he said.
"It's very well run, very well organized and very well managed. It's created nearly 2,000 employment opportunities. So that is a very bright spot."
Examples of economic development initiatives across the province were also a highlight to the year. Bellegarde pointed to the partnership between Black Lake First Nation and SaskPower to develop a electrical generation station named the Tazi Twe and the Muskowekwan First Nations move towards potash development.
"When you look at it overall though with some of the initiatives that we tried to do with the federal government or the provincial government there is still a lot of work to get done," Bellegarde said.
When it comes to the Saskatchewan Government Bellegarde said that moving forward in 2014 they hope to have a conversation about amendments to the gaming framework agreement.
"We give from our (SIGA) profit $8 million to $9 million dollars to the (Provincial) Government when there is zero tax payers dollars invested in that," Bellegarde explained.
"We want to look at keep those net profits amongst our people as well so we can make key investments in education and economic development as well."
He also pointed to work on a new fiscal agreement with the federal government in regards to the two-per-cent cap on spending increases in terms of funding for programs and services that was implemented in 1996.
"The issues in Saskatchewan and across Canada is that First Nations People are still suffering from poverty and there is a high cost to poverty," he said, explaining that a high number is necessary to keep up with inflation rates.
"So we urge people to not be afraid of concepts like revenue sharing, of treaty implementation, of recognition and respecting treaty and inherent rights because that is going to be a good thing, a positive thing for everybody across this land."
Even with a lot of work ahead in the new year for the FSIN, Bellegarde said that he would also like to see more time with family and friends in the new.
"Focusing on family is a key thing going forward in 2014. That's always something special to me and that's what I always look forward to," he said.