First Nations of Saskatchewan are holding a Provincial Day of Action on Monday September 26 to draw attention to the ills and issues that they feel are not being addressed adequately by the provincial government.
According to the Regina Leader-Post, a few hundreds people are expected at the event. It will start with a pancake breakfast at the Creeland Mini Mart in Regina, after which the elders, leaders and youth will walk to the legislative offices, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) said in a media release.
The goal is to draw attention to a host of ills plaguing First Nations peoples, including the high rate of diabetes—four times higher the national average for women and 2.5 times that of men—as well as suicide rates that are five to seven times higher among First Nations communities than in the rest of the country, and an overall aboriginal unemployment rate of 18.2 percent, whereas non-aboriginals’ rate is just 4.2 percent, the FSIN said in a fact sheet.
“In Saskatchewan, First Nation and Métis youth are 30 times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Aboriginal youth,” the fact sheet said. “First Nations and Métis youth make up 20% of the Saskatchewan population aged 12- 17, but comprise 66% of the young offenders population.”
The sheet listed numerous other sobering statistics as well.
Chief Glen Pratt of the George Gordon First Nation characterized First Nations’ relationship with the current provincial government as “challenging,” the Regina Leader-Post reported. He said that for starters there needs to be more treaty recognition, and that First Nations communities should be included in revenue sharing and the economy in general.
“I feel like this government is treating us like we don’t belong to Saskatchewan,” Chief Glen Pratt of the George Gordon First Nation said at a September 20 press conference, as reported by the Leader-Post. “If we don’t do something now, we’re going to get left far behind – to the point where our people aren’t going to have a lot of hope left.”