A bylaw passed by the Town of Kamsack in March had some members of the surrounding First Nations communities concerned.
On Friday, around 200 members of The Key, Cote and Keeseekoose First Nations assembled in the Petro-Canada parking lot on the east side of town to conduct a peaceful Awareness March to draw attention to their concerns about the Town of Kamsack Bylaw No. 25/2017, Loitering and Public Nuisance Bylaw.
Although the bylaw came into effect in March, the majority of First Nation community members were unaware of its existence until about three weeks ago, said Thelma Whitehawk, a band councillor for Cote.
“Members of the RCMP brought a copy of the bylaw to the New Beginnings Outreach Centre in Kamsack about three weeks ago,” Whitehawk said. “When we read the bylaw we felt it was discriminatory against our FN people. We would like to see the town trash this bylaw.
“We would like to be included when they draft a new bylaw, because our FN people do come to Kamsack a lot to do business,” she said.
Corrine Brass is a teacher at Sakimay F.N. but she lives at Cote. She attended the march with her granddaughter, Randi Brass. “We are here to show support for all First Nation members today, even though we live in Cote. I feel awareness is important. My granddaughter is here because it is important for her to know that it is up to each individual to help themselves,” she said.
Wanda Cote of New Beginnings pointed out that Kamsack sits on Treaty No. 4 land.
“Kamsack needs to acknowledge that it sits on Treaty No. 4 territory. Today is a show of solidarity by our people who have taken offense to the nuisance bylawpassed by the town council. We believe there are hints of racism in the bylaw,” she said.
Some voiced concerns that the bylaw might be taking the community back to the days of the past when human rights were not as well respected.
Members of the Yorkton Tribal Council (YTC) also participated in the march as a show of solidarity.
Once the participants reached Cenotaph Park, the drummers sang some songs and everyone participated in a “round dance” which the Internet defines as a communal expression of Aboriginal spirituality.
Some of the marchers carried signs, some of which included:
“Love 1 another;”
“Our future of First Nations matter;”
“Love, Harmony, Unity;”
“Respect our human right;”
“Freedom, Peace, Love, Harmony, Unity,” and
“Stop the Oppression.”
Around 1 p.m. Chief Calvin Straightnose of Keeseekoose, Chief George Cote of Cote and Chief Clarence Papequash of The Key First Nations, along with some band council members and FSIN (Federation of Sovereign Indian Nations) Senator Ted Quewezance met with Mayor Nancy Brunt in the town office for a closed-door meeting to discuss the concerns of the marchers.
Brunt indicated the council is expected to make a response following its next regular meeting on September 10.