Poundmaker Cree Nation getting calls from other nations after leaving tribal council

Nation will ‘represent itself’ with Feds, provincial government: says FSIN has lost its way.

Poundmaker Cree Nation

Poundmaker Cree Nation says it’s starting to get calls from other nations in Saskatchewan after announcing it was leaving the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN).

In October, leaders in the community announced their decision to leave the regional advocacy group and the national lobby group – the Assembly of First Nations (AFN).

Councillor Bryan Tootoosis said the nation was invited last week to a meeting with the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) chiefs to discuss what he calls Poundmaker’s return to negotiating agreements directly with the federal government that are based on Treaty.

“I think a lot of other nations would like to follow what we’re doing, but keeping in mind that Poundmaker Cree Nation is a Section 10 band under the Indian Act versus Section 6 of the Indian Act where you have to have an election every two years, we have ours on a four year system.

Tootoosis said many First Nations struggled through the pandemic and that was made clear after meeting with the STC Chiefs.

“It was a $17-million contribution made by the federal government – it went to FSIN to look after the needs of our people and we only got a really small portion of it. You might as well give us the money and we’d have done a way better job than they did with their planning and so forth,” Tootoosis told APTN News.

“It was a lot of awful, awful stories that you heard that other bands had gone through. I’ll give you an example: the pandemic, there was food delivered to our nations and some nations didn’t receive nothing.  I wasn’t even aware of that.”

Tootoosis also said Poundmaker received boxes of rotten food.

He said it took more than a year of debate for them to decide to leave the FSIN, with a lot of discussion among members young and old.

“We were not pleased with the work that FSIN has been doing in terms of protecting and preserving our treaty rights and so forth. We went to Ottawa and we served notice with the different ministers and existing caucus of the federal government,” Tootoosis said.

He said doing it now gives the government time to arrange to have next year’s funding sent directly to the nation.

APTN reached out to FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron for an interview regarding Poundmaker but was declined.

While Poundmaker agreed not to comment on the internal “ups and downs” that have dogged the FSIN and AFN, Tootoosis did acknowledge that problems exist within both organizations.

“FSIN has internal turmoil going on even as we speak and that includes AFN. I went to an AFN conference in Vancouver—I was so disappointed; it took a lot out of me as a leader to go down and the whole entire conference seemed like it centered around the chief of AFN and it was sad, the arguing and all that,” Tootoosis said.

“What about progress, what about developments, what about the protection of our treaty rights at the national level? And what about the provincial level? We need support, our nations need support. When it’s not there, you get disappointed.”

“Some of our young members, which are professional people – educators, teachers, social workers and nurses. Those staff has never seen FSIN employees on Poundmaker for 10 years.”

FSIN Vice Chief Heather Bear acknowledged the move in an Oct. 10 news release.

“Right now, the frustration, I can understand that. We have to respect Poundmaker and their decisions. At the end of the day, FSIN always respects the jurisdiction and the autonomy of every nation,” Bear said.

“I’m sad, it’s happened before, hopefully, the relationship will come back again, but we’re still connected in other ways. I think the main thing is we’re all working toward the same vision but in other ways.”

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