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Governments, Sioux Valley Dakota Nation sign self-governance agreements

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Sioux Valley Dakota Nation today became the first reserve in the province -- and just the third in Canada -- to achieve self-governance.

At a special ceremony today, the governments of Canada, Manitoba and Sioux Valley Dakota Nation celebrated agreements signed to provide the First Nation with greater control over decisions related to economic development, land management, education, housing and water, and other issues.

"This is an important step forward on the path of reconciliation and demonstrates that by working together we can deliver results for all Canadians," Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt said in a release.

"The agreements reflect the collaboration of all parties over 20 years," said Sioux Valley Chief Vincent Tacan. "We begin to lift impediments of the Indian Act and move to build a self-reliant, healthy and prosperous Dakota Nation.

On Oct. 4, 2012, a majority of band members — about 64 per cent — voted to approve self-governance agreements between the three levels of government.

At the time, Tacan said the agreement would mean "that we’ll be able to do the things that other people and governments take for granted. We’ll be able to participate fully in things we feel are important to us and that’s jobs, looking after our own health issues and our priorities as we see them.

"And we can start working on those issues without the restrictions of government bureaucrats."

The self-government agreements signed today will give Sioux Valley Dakota Nation authority to make new laws affecting its community in over 50 subject areas. Governance agreements will be harmonized with existing federal and provincial laws within the Canadian constitutional framework, the provincial government said in a release.

Sioux Valley will become the third reserve in the country to achieve self-government. Sechelt First Nation and Westbank First Nation, both located in B.C., are the other two.

The Sioux Valley Dakota Nation has about 2,450 members, about 56 per cent of them living on reserve land, about 50 kilometres west of Brandon.

History

Updated on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 5:00 PM CDT: Updated: agreements signed, adds quotes.

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