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‘It’s for tomorrow as well’: How a Saskatchewan First Nation is managing its money

How a Saskatchewan First Nation is handling its money
WATCH: A First Nation in southern Saskatchewan has invested the millions of dollars it has received in land and flood claim settlements to fund major housing and infrastructure projects over the next few years.

A First Nation in southern Saskatchewan has invested the millions of dollars it has received in land and flood claim settlements to fund major housing and infrastructure projects over the next few years.

Pasqua First Nation, located about 65 kilometres northeast of Regina, has issued a tender for a $10-million 12-bed elders’ long-term care facility and is in the final stage of blueprinting a new $25-million school. These projects already underway are just part of the band’s first phase of development.

“It’s not just for today, it’s for tomorrow as well,” Chief Matthew Todd Peigan said in an interview with Global News.

READ MORE: Flood claim agreement goes to a vote

One year ago, Pasqua was awarded a $145-million land claim settlement. Peigan said membership voted to put that money into a trust, alongside most of the $20.6 million dollars it received in a 2013 flood claim settlement (a small portion was paid out).

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The nation is borrowing money at low interest against its high-interest investments to fund its projects.

“You have money, you spend it, it’s gone. You invest it properly and you preserve it and you buy capital assets, as you move on, those remain and your funds remain,” Peigan said.

This development of the long-term care facility comes 10 years after Pasqua built a 20-bed independent living complex for seniors.

Caroleen Stevenson has been the band’s projects and housing manager for just as long. She’s watched the health of members living in the complex decline.

“It’s very hurtful to have to send our elders out when they want to be here,” she said.

The floor plans for the facility, designed by Saskatoon-based KRN Tolentino Architecture Ltd., include a cafeteria, an exercise room, a sauna, a movie room and a ceremonial room.

The tender is expected to be awarded before the spring, which is when the chief hopes to break ground in the open space south of the band office. The target completion date is December 2020.

A new school is next on Pasqua’s list. With more than 200 students currently enrolled in the reserve’s current makeshift institution, Peigan said creating an environment where they can receive “quality education” is a priority.

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READ MORE: New funding brings $7.5 million for Indigenous businesses in Sask.

“We always talk about our youth as our leaders of tomorrow so what we’re trying to do is give them the tools to be those leaders,” he said.

Peigan anticipates pre-construction work on the school will begin in 2020, but the build will not be completed until 2022 or 2023.

The band, which has more than 50 children in care across the province, has conceptual drawings for a youth shelter and a women’s shelter — and plans to add 30 to 40 more homes.

But before that happens, Pasqua will upgrade its water treatment and sewage infrastructure to keep pace with development, the chief said.

Approximately one-third of the band’s 2,400 members live on the reserve.

“We’re limited on the resources that we have here, but as we grow, we would have more for our people,” Stevenson said. “They just want to come home.

“Being able to take an idea and develop it, it’s exciting. The training that will come with it, the growth, the jobs and our community working together. It’s just awesome.”