Province contributes $43 million to First Nations Trust, CDCs
- John Lagimodiere | July 18, 2020
The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted thousands of businesses across the country and SIGA, the flagship business of First Nations in Saskatchewan, is no different.
The pandemic put almost 1,900 SIGA employees out of work. Beyond the loss of jobs, the loss of SIGA revenue severely impacted the First Nations Trust, which divides SIGA profits among Saskatchewan’s 72 First Nations, and revenue for the casinos’ charitable granting Community Development Committees (CDCs).
“The money from the Trust is so important to the communities,” said SIGA Board Chair Chief Reginald Bellerose. “We knew we had to do something so a First Nation negotiating team was formed in partnership with the Province of Saskatchewan. We wish to recognize the work of our Provincial partners, whose team was led by Minister Lori Carr, and the efforts of the First Nation negotiating team, which included myself, Chief Bobby Cameron, Chief Mary Anne Daywalker-Pelletier, Chief Darcy Bear, Tribal Chief Edmund Bellegarde, Tribal Representative Neil Sasakamoose, Chair of the First Nation Trust Sheila Sutherland, and SIGA President and CEO Zane Hansen.”
The conversations in that committee led to the province providing financial support of $36.6 million to the First Nations Trust and $6.5 million to the CDCs to support communities.
“We will get through this together,” said Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand at the press conference to acknowledge the contribution. “SIGA is like a crown corporation and is very valuable to us and needed. Thanks to Premier Moe for the investment in community. We are thankful and grateful.”
Chief Bellerose noted, as the press conference was held in front of the Dakota Dunes Casino where a line up of gamblers waited to get inside on its second day back in business that the employees were very excited to get back to work. “The employees are quite eager and the customers are quite eager to get back at it. When you look at it this Covid-19 was global. No one saw it coming and it slowed down the entire world,” he said. “Thank you to Province of Saskatchewan for their ongoing leadership they have shown during this pandemic. All of our communities, citizens, businesses, institutions and frontline workers have played a critical role in keeping our COVID-19 numbers low, and we are very grateful for all they have done as well.”
The goal with the money is to restore the ailing Trust fund as soon as possible. “From here on forward to end of year, 25 per cent of revenue goes to top up the trust and CDCs. The grant money demonstrates the strong partnership between the Chiefs and the province. Our gaming agreement is the only one of its kind in the entire country. That demonstrates that in good times we can share revenue, and in bad times one can support the other,” Bellrose said.