Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand says the FSIN has lost its focus. (Omayra Issa) The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) has lost the support of Saskatoon-area chiefs and others across the province say they may soon follow.
"The FSIN is in disarray, and it makes all First Nations people look bad," Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand said.
Others, however, defended the federation.
"They are very relevant — I think they’re doing a good job," Peter Ballanytne Cree Nation Chief Peter Beatty said.
FSIN delegates will vote for a new chief this week at an assembly in Saskatoon, but Arcand and others say it will take more than an election to fix the 72-year-old institution.
The seven bands of the Saskatoon Tribal Council sent a letter to the FSIN saying the federation no longer speaks for them. Arcand said the province’s 74 member First Nations should stop contributing to the FSIN’s budget.
"Don’t take our money anymore. We don’t see a return on investment," Arcand said. "They’ve lost their vision."
Arcand and others say the FSIN has become preoccupied with bickering and infighting. For example, police were called to the FSIN offices in Saskatoon this month during a dispute over who should be interim chief during the election campaign.
Arcand said the FSIN also failed to support them in their legal and political child welfare fight.
"We’ve had no support from FSIN—nothing," he said. Delegates from some of Saskatchewan’s 74 first nations listen to one of the candidates give their speech at the FSIN 2017 Elections Assembly in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Delegates will be voting for a new chief this week in Saskatoon. (Brad Bellegarde/CBC News) Longtime Sakimay First Nation Chief Lynn Acoose said she’s been pressing for reforms, but little has been accomplished in recent years. She said the FSIN has forgotten the original mandate of fighting for treaty rights.
"I think it’s very disorganized, and they spend too much time chasing grant money. If things don’t change, we are headed for assimilation," she said.
Acoose said the chiefs who signed treaties more than 125 years ago would not be happy with the state of the FSIN.
"I don’t think that our Mooshums would have envisioned static organizations that only seem to be interested in their self-preservation," Acoose said. FSIN should be stripped of governance power: chief
Acoose says she’ll come to the assembly next week to vote, but that she thinks the FSIN should be stripped of its governance power. She said it could still be useful as a research institute for bands seeking legal or technical help, but chiefs will have to consider dissolving the FSIN altogether if things don’t improve soon. Sakimay First Nations Chief Lynn Acoose says she has been pressing for reform at the FSIN for years. (Jason Warick/CBC) Acoose, Arcand and others say there are many other groups that could take on the roles of the FSIN. Individual First Nations and regional tribal councils have trained growing numbers of in-house lawyers, accountants and other experts. Campus Indigenous groups, Idle No More and other bodies are playing an increasing role.
"And maybe this is the way it should be," Acoose said.
Former FSIN chief Sol Sanderson said the Federation is worth saving. He agrees the petty power struggles must stop. He said not much has been done by the FSIN in recent years.He noted the federation was created in 1946 by chiefs and First Nations veterans of the Second World War who were denied the land and benefits given to other returning soldiers. In those early days, they were forced to meet in secret and were subjected to RCMP surveillance, he said. Former FSIN Chief […]
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