July 7, 2012 - Government of Canada press release:
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 government.
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 collaboration."
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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