Peguis First Nation converts 1075 Portage Ave. to reserve status
By Trevor Greyeyes
The smoke rises up and curls in different directions before dissipating as it rises toward the ceiling in a ceremony that preserves the Annishbnabe culture’s recognition ofan agreement through the Pipe Ceremony.
Elder and Master of Ceremonies for the celebration, Dave McPherson said earlier, “The Pipe is the instrument of our people that tells us to talk our truth, to speak the truth and walk our truth. It comes from the earth and a very special spirit called Matiganabee.”
McPherson said that the European
settlers have their signing ceremonies of making marks on a paper as
their custom of recognizing an agrement has been made.
And that the Pipe ceremony is the manner in which the Annishnabe recognize an agreement between peoples and the Creator.
If you’ve followed any of the mainstream news coverage then you will know, really at this type of event it’s common, that many nice platitudes were shared by representatives from both the Peguis First Nation side and the federal government as well.
Full disclosure here but people should know that, yes, I am a Peguis band member as well. Card carrying in fact.
What do I know?
It took five years to work out the municipal development and services agreement that gives Peguis FN more control over how the land is developed as well as the obligation of paying for services in lieau of property taxes.
Note, as Nathan McCorrister, Peguis
Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) director, pointed out to me is that
this agreement differs from the usual municipal services agreement
between a First Nation and an urban centre in that more control over
development is in the hands of the First Nation.
Now, was it “historic?”
I would say a little less than historic
but an important step nonetheless.
Peguis councilor Annette Spence-Meeches said that she used to work for Long Plains chief Dennis Meeches when they were setting up urban reserve properties around Winnipeg. That Long Plains then turned around and funneled money made into the city back into their community for housing and infrastructure.
That’s an interesting idea.
And as I turned around while the drums sounded and the singers started their Grand Entry song, I was stunned by the numbers of people that were in attendance. All the chairs were filled and people were lined up along the walls to witness the celebration.
I had noticed this one guy who was
being physically enabled by a wheelchair who was looking for a place
to put his wheelchair before the Grand Entry started.
As fotune would have it, I bumped into him on Portage Ave. as we waited for the bus.
His name is Sam Hansen .
Hansen attended the event at his own expense. He said that as a Peguis band member the event interested him wanting to see what might lay in store for someone in his circumstance.
“I wanted to see what type of things something like this could bring into Winnipeg for us,if anything” said Hansen. “I remain hopeful that we’ll get some services in Winnipeg.”
Hansen said that it is difficult for someone like him who is no longer able to work a job. He’d like to see housing and services that could help someone in his situation come to the city.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see Mr. Hansen to see if any benefits of this development trickle down to ordinary band members like ourselves.
Like Hansen, I suppose that I too will remain hopeful. And vigilant.