Coalition of Indigenous Peoples of Sask. seeking input from those living off-reserve at upcoming meeting

Coalition of Indigenous Peoples of Saskatchewan (CIPS) president John Hanikenne. (Herald file photo)

The Coalition of Indigenous Peoples of Saskatchewan (CIPS) is hosting an outreach and engagement session in Prince Albert later this month.

CIPS represents non-status and off-reserve First Nations and Métis people in the province. The group is travelling to cities also including Saskatoon, the Battlefords and Regina to get input from urban Indigenous people on a variety of topics.

A news release said the Nov. 30 meeting will focus on effective principles of self-governance, governance issues, establishing relationships with other Indigenous organizations and the needs of off-reserve Indigenous people in Prince Albert.

CIPS is in the beginning stages of developing a membership system for off-reserve and non-status First Nations and Métis people in Saskatchewan. They’re also seeking input on what would be effective for the system and how to ensure it will provide information and identification security.

According to CAPS President John Hanikenne, the majority of Indigenous people do not live on a reservation.

“How many people are being left out?” he questioned. “We have to find out what our needs are in urban centres.”

Hanikenne said people living off-reserve don’t get nearly the same benefits as those who live on-reserve.

“That’s evident when it comes to education. They don’t get funding, they work with their band membership first.”

Additionally, he said it’s important to decide who classifies as an Indigenous person. Otherwise, they’ll be funding a lot of non-Indigenous people.

“A lot of times the government decides for us, again, what our needs are by just running a program. It’s not us telling them that we need this program, it’s them running their program,” said

“We have to think proactively into the future and how we’re just going to organize ourselves, be more effective, how are we going to reach out to the people that we need to reach out to?”

The outreach and engagement session will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 66 11 St. W. Hanikenne said all Indigenous people in the city are welcome.

Lunch will be provided.

CIPS is an affiliate of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP), which originally began in 1971 to represent non-status Indigenous people. In 1993, the group also started advocating for the rights of people living off-reserve.