Saskatoon Wildlife Federation, Saskatoon Tribal Council enter “game-changing” partnership
- John Lagimodiere | July 17, 2020
The Saskatoon Wildlife Federation (SWF) will create a board position for a representative of the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) as part of a ground-breaking memorandum of understanding.
The organizations have agreed to support mutual goals and ideals surrounding education, conservation, and the proud heritage in Saskatchewan. The agreement, signed between the SWF and each of the seven First Nations of STC, will see an expansion of programs and access for inner-city youth from Saskatoon and area and on reserve.
The relationship between the Federation and the Tribal Council has been fruitful in the past. Several North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) athletes have been trained by SWF members and many have practiced at their facility. That cooperation has led to further good deeds, with the SWF donating over $40,000 in cash to the Tribal Council’s food program during COVID, and volunteers with the SWF making more than 20,000 sandwiches for the program.
“I got called for a meeting and Robert Freberg (Past President of the SWF) said (they) wanted to engage and make a difference in First Nations kids’ lives. And they have helped us make a difference for so many people,” said Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand. “And now with this partnership, they have lots to learn from our people. We like the opportunity that this will give to educate our young people and with great facilities.”
The expanded programming will give youth access to firearm safety and licensing programs, fishing programs, and archery training. The STF even has a mobile range for archery that will travel to the seven First Nations for the youth to practice at.
The SWF board position for someone from the Tribal Council is a game-changer, Freberg says.
“This is massive. We need that input from them. What we are doing right and what we are doing wrong and what we can change,” said Freberg. “We also need to have a better understanding of Indigenous hunting. We have all heard the rumours or seen the issues, but those issues exist on both sides. I think opening up the communication and understanding better and being able to communicate our concerns and listen to all the community’s concerns will build a stronger partnership.”
Freberg and the SWF have been strong community supporters. Their hunters have donated over five tons of game to the food bank and the Tribal Council. And they know this era of reconciliation is time for action.
“We can’t keep going the way we are going. The youth can change that. Whether it is firearm safety or hunting ethics or understanding each others’ rights, this agreement is huge and this is the place to do it. We are one of the largest organizations of its kind in western Canada and we think it is our responsibility to do that,” added Freberg.
For Tribal Council Chief Arcand, being involved in governance matters.
“At the end of the day, we will have an actual say on the board. And make an opportunity to have a good investment. We can share the knowledge we have as First Nation people when we have a ceremony when we hunt. We are learning from them and they are learning from us. To have a voice at the table, we really have to promote that to other organizations to give us that voice to speak on behalf of our people and we are working together. It is 2020. We have a voice. We can be part of the solution to making a difference in Saskatoon.”
The benefits for both groups will be tangible, and Freberg says there has already been a big impact on his organization. “This is a fantastic opportunity for all of us and our members. This signing presents a real first in reconciliation efforts between important Saskatchewan originations. The event also marks immense progressive opportunities for youth within Saskatchewan,” said Freberg. “We want to learn too. We have had some elders out here teaching us some values. Our young kids have sat and listened. We just love it. It adds a new dimension to our organization. It is revitalizing us and we are getting more members out of it.”