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Three First Nations students off to National Spelling Bee PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dean Bear   
Monday, 27 March 2017 07:10

Photo courtesy of Dean Bear

Three students from First Nation community schools in Saskatchewan will be heading to the National Spelling Bee in Toronto in May after Friday's Provincial First Nation Spelling Bee in Saskatoon.

McKenna Fineblanket of Bishop Roborecki School in Saskatoon won in the primary division.

Noah Merasty from Gateway Elementary in Meadow Lake took top spot in the junior category and Mykayla Cannapotato from Chief Taylor School in Onion Lake won the intermediate category.

Pauline Favel is the president of the Saskatchewan Region for the Spelling Bee of Canada and says that literacy training can be compared to training for athletes.

She says with the spelling bee First Nations students can prove that they are very bright and they can shine if given the opportunity.

Favel says the FNPSB Committee’s vision is to host a National First Nations Spelling Bee to inspire others from across Canada to make the same investment in their First Nations youth by creating opportunities to participate in these unique and innovative literacy initiatives.

Over 120 students from 34 First Nations community schools in the province took part.

Last Updated on Monday, 27 March 2017 07:15
Finance minister fields questions on taxes, northern mental health at Prince Albert Chamber event PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chelsea Laskowski   
Friday, 24 March 2017 16:23

Minister Kevin Doherty speaks to media in Prince Albert on Friday. Photo by Chelsea Laskowski.

Saskatchewan's finance minister is keeping busy after unveiling a controversial budget earlier this week.

Kevin Doherty has been speaking at Chamber of Commerce events across the province, starting in Regina on Thursday.

In Prince Albert on Friday, he pledged to answer audience questions on what he calls a "tough budget" from a crowd of more than 100 people.

One of the questions came from Grant Gustafson, who runs a group that provides life skills for people with mental health issues called Self Help and Recreation Education (SHARE) and also acts as a trustee with the local school division.

"We are struggling to provide services" with an influx of people moving from places like La Loche to access better education and health services, Gustafson said.

He asked whether the province has budgeted additional federal dollars promised to the province through the Canada Health Transfer towards mental health.

Doherty said the budget does include those dollars, but there are conditions for how they are spent because during past negotiations, "on mental health the Prime Minister was insistent upon, there has to be new programs for mental health with the dollars he was allocating."

He said mental health in the La Loche area has already received federal and provincial attention and new programming dollars should be flowing there, but health ministers still need to hammer out an agreement for how transfers will look for all of Saskatchewan over the next 10 years.

Afterwards, Gustafson told MBC that SHARE is getting more and more people from northern Saskatchewan in their program.

"Right now, I would love to see the province take some of that federal money, a third of it or more, get into the north," he said.

"We see that they do not have mental health services across the north like they do in other areas... Deal with mental health, you can have more productive people out there."

Doherty was also asked about whether the province will make moves to reduce the sting of its decision to increase the PST from five to six per cent.

However, he is firm on the provincial budget's current plan to spend three years reducing their budget deficit until they're back in the black. In 2017-18, the province is expected to have a $685 million deficit.

He said the budget is focused on taxing people's spending, or consumption rather than taxing their income.

There are reductions in the budget. For example, corporate income tax rate is dropping by half a percent.

"Businesses hire individuals. Governments don't create employment, businesses do. So if you provide a competitive tax base for businesses to relocate to Saskatchewan or incent businesses to reinvest in their business - they hire more people, they expand their business - that drives your economy. That creates jobs, that's what we're trying to do, it's part of our growth agenda," he said.

He defends the choice to cut the province's bus service, Saskatchewan Transportation Company, saying it was unsustainable no matter what way they looked at it.

Last Updated on Saturday, 25 March 2017 19:53
Polls open for election and referendum on Beardy’s and Okemasis PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chelsea Laskowski   
Friday, 24 March 2017 12:21

Beardy's and Okemasis First Nation Chief and Council meeting spot. Photo courtesy Facebook, Chief & Council - Beardy's & Okemasis First Nation.

It's election day on Beardy's and Okemasis First Nation, and people are voting for more than just chief and council.

A referendum is coinciding with the election.

There are five names on the ballot for chief, 27 for council, and there are also three referendum questions on the ballots.

The band is asking all voters if they approve of the proposed Beardy's Constitution, Executive Act, and Financial Management Act.

There have been a number of information sessions on the proposals over the past few months. The previous council has stated, regardless of who gets voted in, the acts promote transparency and autonomy for the Duck Lake Area First Nation.

Also this month, all candidates went through a drug test to be submitted to the Chief Electoral Officer.

All chief candidates paid a $400 fee and council candidates paid $200 to run.

In the past week, the five chief candidates- Candace Scott, Brian Seeseequasis, Roy Petit, Brian Littlepine, and Remonda Gardipy- have all taken the mic at all-candidate forums on reserve and in Saskatoon.

Previous chief Rick Gamble is not running.

Friday morning started off with a pipe ceremony, and polls opened at 9 a.m. People can vote until 6 p.m. at the Beardy’s and Okemasis Recreation Centre.

It's expected the election results will be revealed this weekend.

Last Updated on Friday, 24 March 2017 14:06
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