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Pelican Narrows still recovering after administrative centre fire PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chelsea Laskowski   
Monday, 11 December 2017 10:32

Pelican Narrows local administrative centre on fire on May 15, 2017. Photo submitted.

Pelican Narrows is still recovering after a May fire decimated its administrative centre.

The radio station, community hall, bingo and court were all run out of the building before the fire, which Mayor Ovide M. Michel says has been cleared as accidental by RCMP. The official cause he was given was that electrical equipment in a room in the building had started on fire.

Since then, court has been run out of the arena and the village has borrowed a small trailer from fire management to run its administrative business. It took about six months for Pelican Narrows to get a capital grant to set up a receiver and run broadcasts of MBC, but it's still going without the voices of local radio announcers.

Michel says the fire took away the livelihood for their well-liked Cree and English announcer Robert Merasty, who has been out of the job since May. Band councillor Weldon McCallum says communication about local events, job opportunities, school announcements and other activities have been difficult to go without.

"A lot of times too, for example, if a community lost a loved one the radio station would hold pledges for families and the community would all come together and chip in, donate to the family and it was by the hundreds, sometimes over a thousand," McCallum says.

Michel says within the next month they will have a new building for administrative business which is being shipped in from La Ronge with funding from a capital grant. One of the delays in getting things up and running again comes from the fact that the building's insurance had lapsed after a changeover in staff at the village office. This, Michel says, meant the contents of the buildings were insured, but the building itself was not. Another delay has been in finding a new location. The old building had been on TLE land, and Michel says the government was firm that it needs to be Crown land.

The new building will be able to hold a radio station and administration, but it will take fundraising and extra efforts to get the radio tower and equipment to the new location. It is expected to be near the band office and health centre once the lot is expropriated from an owner that has not paid taxes for more than a decade, Michel says.

The community still does not have a replacement planned for the hall, which held weddings, flea sales, dances and gospel gathering.

Michel says he's hoping to find a solution down the road but was not willing to provide details at this time.

Last Updated on Monday, 11 December 2017 10:39
Sask. government potentially cutting red tape for leasing or using Crown land PDF Print E-mail
Written by Manfred Joehnck   
Monday, 11 December 2017 09:52

Photo courtesy of saskimmigration.com

The provincial government is looking to cut red tape when it comes to leasing or using Crown lands, including wild rice regulations.

It has launched a user survey to get feedback on the current rules and restrictions and is asking for feedback from users. The survey can be found on Saskatchewan Environment's website.

The ministry administers 377,000 square kilometres of Crown land in central and northern Saskatchewan. More than five million is generated annually from more than 6,500 wild rice and land use dispositions issued on Crown resource lands.

Other disposition examples include things like mine sites, outfitter lodges, recreational and trappers’ cabins and gravel pits. The survey will be online until the end of the month.

The Crown resource land and wild rice survey is available online at www.saskatchewan.ca/government/public-consultations/crown-resource-land-and-wild-rice-survey.


Last Updated on Monday, 11 December 2017 15:38
PAGC chief hopes better relationship with province will improve disaster response PDF Print E-mail
Written by Joel Willick   
Monday, 11 December 2017 07:59

PAGC Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte. File photo.

The grand chief of the Prince Albert Grand Council says the partnership between First Nation communities and the province needs to improve to better respond to disasters.

This past summer, over 2,500 people were evacuated from Pelican Narrows due to wildfires. While PAGC Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte says he was impressed with the response to the disaster, he says there was a lot of confusion during the process. He says dealing with the province over jurisdiction and policies weren't clearly defined.

"We want to work with the province and the Ministry of Environment to improve this," said Hardlotte. "We need to work with the province and federal government to ensure less disasters happen in our communities, and we can do that simply by coming together and working together."

Hardlotte says often First Nations pay for the response to disasters without knowing if or when they will be reimbursed.

Last week in Ottawa, Lac La Ronge Indian Band Chief Tammy Cook-Searson presented to an Indigenous and Northern Affairs standing committee on a similar issue. Chief Cook-Searson says they paid over $800,000 for the fire response efforts in 2015 and didn't receive any reimbursement for nearly a year. She also spoke about the lack of clarity when First Nations work with the province on disaster response.

Chief Hardlotte says they have begun meetings with the province to work out some of the issues. He says those conversations have been positive so far.

"We have started the work already," he said. "Hopefully we can make some good announcements in the future for northern people."

The PAGC passed a resolution at their fall assembly to start that work with the province. Days later, the resolution was also passed by chiefs at the FSIN fall assembly in Saskatoon.

The province has not yet provided comment on the matter.

Last Updated on Monday, 11 December 2017 08:15
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