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Economic development referendum fails in Birdtail Sioux

Birdtail Sioux First Nation Coun. Heath Bunn and Chief Ken Chalmers stand overlooking the valley where the Canadian National Railway line runs through the community in this March 2012 photo.

FILE PHOTO Enlarge Image

Birdtail Sioux First Nation Coun. Heath Bunn and Chief Ken Chalmers stand overlooking the valley where the Canadian National Railway line runs through the community in this March 2012 photo.

A referendum to designate a stretch of Birdtail Sioux First Nation land for commercial leasing and business development has failed to pass after a Tuesday vote.

There were 152 no votes to 65 yes votes.

The vote was to be the first step toward the construction of a new multimillion-dollar Canadian National rail spur on the western Manitoba reserve and future plans for the creation of an oil terminal in the heart of Manitoba’s oil country.

But it also marks the first test run of new and controversial legislative changes to the Land Designation sections of the Indian Act that came into effect with the passing of Bill C-45 earlier this year.

The new legal changes make designation easier by eliminating the need to have a majority of the band turn out for the vote. 

Birdtail Sioux members will be voting again on Wednesday, for band elections.

 

 

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Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 4 Commentscomment icon

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To Birdtail Sioux Community member, my question is this: there were SIX (6) information meetings about this and people didnt start showing up until the last two. How can you claim there was a lack of information when you didnt bother showing up to the meetings? Also- the community was never, ever, "giving away" land. All a designation does is allow you to lease land...not give it away. If you have a job, it would be easy for you to turn this down and deny meaningful, well-paying jobs to others in your community. You turned down hundreds of well paying job for....what exactly? The environmental concerns were able to be addressed in any future leases...and the development opportunity didnt only involve oil...there was grain stations, house manufacturing, etc...

Unfortunately, all that has happened is that all the other small communities and Rural Municipalities around Birdtail Sioux are now going leap on this opportunity and take all the jobs, opportunity, revenue, and development that you turned down.

So now you are going to live off welfare instead of benefiting by employment and being a prosperous reserve? You don't know when you have a smart chief!! Lack of information? Read the papers? Or ask your chief, he would have told you.

As a lifetime resident of the Birdtail Sioux First Nation, I voted AGAINST this referendum due to lack of information, lack of consultation with the Community and most of all the timeline imposed upon us, also having been forced to vote under duress. Another huge issue was how the Chief has been misleading information on business endevourse that he's been associated with and NOT reporting back to the Community on this particular matter as well as other business ventures pertaining to us as a Community. There is also the fact of a Social Assistance fruad scheme that his wife is involved in.There had to be a stop to him dipping his hand too far in the cookie jar and for his own benefit; But most of all the environmental risks this project would have on our way of living as Aboriginal people. 99 years is too long, our beautiful valley would have never been the same and we did this for the sake of our children,our future. This is not our decision to lend away what is their's. There are other economic development projects that would be more suitable for our small community that would also be sustaining. Its just another Government scheme to try take all we've got. Snakeless and under new leadership today I applaud the people of Birdtail Sioux for standing together for what they feel is right.

You turned down an opportunity for economic development and jobs for your people?

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