September 16, 2017 8:14 pm

Reconciliation a key theme of Treaty 4 celebration in Fort Qu’Appelle


Over the past week, thousands of people have come to Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask., to mark the 143rd anniversary of the signing of Treaty 4. The File Hill Qu’Appelle Tribal Council (FHQTC) have hosted a weeklong celebration, capped off with pow wows on Saturday and Sunday.

“Every year, we gather on this spot where we entered into treaty with the Crown and Great Britain in 1874. So we gather here to discuss matters of treaty, collect annuities, and it’s a great celebration for our people,” FHQTC Chief Edmund Bellegarde said.

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This celebration is steeped in culture and tradition, but there’s an eye on the future. Reconciliation is a major theme. Part of Saturday’s event included a strong police presence of RCMP and members of the Regina Police Service (RPS).

A community policing effort, Bellegarde said, is important when it comes to building bridges between First Nations communities and police, where relations can be strained.

“When we look at what’s wrong in today’s society, why there’s high incarceration rates amongst our people, there’s a disconnect in that relationship,” Bellegarde said.

“When we have law enforcement come around and talk about community policing, it’s about establishing a respectful relationship, and that will go a long way in creating the proper environments.”

READ MORE: Regina flies Treaty 4 flags on Albert Street Bridge to commemorate signing

These sentiments were echoed by RPS Chief Evan Bray, who said building these community connections is essential to doing the job.

“If we as a police service can build trust in all our communities, particularly the First Nations community, I think we are just miles ahead of where we used to be,” Bray said.

Moving forward, Bellegarde said the next step in reconciliation he would like to see is a widespread recognition of First Nations people’s right to culture and self-governance.

“There’s gotta be that recognition for that respectful relationship, that treaty relationship to really be meaningful,” he said.

The FHQTC Treay 4 celebration concludes Sunday with another pow wow.

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