On July 7, 2012, in a special signing ceremony in Saskatoon,
Saskatchewan, the Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal
Affairs and Northern Development, and Chief Darcy Bear of Whitecap
Dakota First Nation, announced that the Government of Canada and
the First Nation have concluded a Memorandum of Understanding
("MOU") on reconciliation.
The MOU opens discussions to recognize the long-standing
relationship between the First Nation and the Canadian
Whitecap, along with other Dakota and Lakota bands, is not a
party to any of the numbered treaties Canada entered into with
other prairie First Nations in the late 19th century. Its
reserve lands are also significantly smaller than those established
for neighbouring Treaty 6 and Treaty 4 First Nations.
Minister Duncan commented that the "signing also sends a
powerful signal of this government's willingness to enter into
constructive discussions. We welcome the opportunity to move
forward with willing partners in a spirit of
Chief Bear commented: "I welcome the Government's
efforts to work with our community to find a way towards Dakota
reconciliation". Chief Bear noted that "history
shows that the Dakota have been steadfast allies to the Crown for
over 250 years, including our contributions in the War of
1812's fight for Canada. We look forward to mutually finding
solutions that honour the spirit of our alliances."
The MOU will set the stage for continuing work between Canada
and Whitecap Dakota First Nation towards a mutually acceptable path
to reconciliation. These exploratory talks are expected to
begin in the coming weeks.
Gowlings was honoured to represent the Whitecap Dakota First
Nation in its negotiations on this Memorandum of Understanding.
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