Sioux Valley chief says meeting with PM a step in the right direction

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In what he said is expected to become an annual tradition, Sioux Valley Dakota Nation Chief Vince Tacan met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa on Wednesday.

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This article was published 03/11/2017 (1750 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

In what he said is expected to become an annual tradition, Sioux Valley Dakota Nation Chief Vince Tacan met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa on Wednesday.

He joined other First Nations leaders whose communities have achieved self-government or self-determination, in meeting with Trudeau.

“This is certainly a sign that the government has noticed that there is a group of First Nations out there who have self-government agreements, and maybe they ought to have a better look at the model,” Tacan said, back home on Thursday, reflecting on the previous day’s meeting as a step in the right direction.

In a release issued on Wednesday, Trudeau said “modern treaties and self-government agreements are examples of reconciliation in action.”

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I thank the Modern Treaty and Self-Government partners for meeting today under the shared desire to build a better future for our children and grandchildren,” Trudeau continued. “Working together, we will continue to forge a new government-to-government relationship built on recognition of rights, respect, collaboration and partnership.”

Sioux Valley is Manitoba’s only First Nation to have achieved self-government, which Tacan credits with allowing those in the community to finally look forward again.

“Before, under the Indian Act, nothing was possible,” he said, adding that under the restrictive Indian Act framework, things took “forever” to get done.

Self-government “leaves us with an opportunity to focus on how we can generate new jobs or get out of things that we were never able to look at before,” Tacan said.

Sioux Valley is currently working on ambitious plans for the 80 acres of land the community’ owns, which surround the Petro-Canada station they opened off the Trans-Canada Highway, which Tacan cites as “something that’s not possible under the Indian Act.”

“Historically, all bands haven’t really had the opportunities to create their own revenue streams and have decision-making authority over the day-to-day things that they ought to have authority over,” he said.

Given Trudeau’s recent pledge to abolish the Indian Act, Sioux Valley is a step ahead of many other First Nations.

Tacan said that he left Wednesday’s meeting optimistic that Trudeau would consider his and other delegates’ comments, with his focusing mainly on the positive benefits that self-government has created in his community.

“The groups that were there; the discussions were at a much higher level,” he said. “There was no complaining and bickering. People want results and they want to see things change.”

» tclarke@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @TylerClarkeMB

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