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Band seeking recognition through court action

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Compiled by Shari Narine







The John Cochrane Band filed a statement of claim in Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench in August alleging Chief Perry Bellegarde, acting as executive authority for the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, has improperly blocked the band’s membership claim. In September 2009, the claim says, FSIN’s joint executive council and Indian Government Commission unanimously approved the John Cochrane Band’s request to join the FSIN. However, at the fall assembly in October 2009, the resolution ratifying membership was “improperly” removed from the agenda. The John Cochrane Band, also known as the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation, has been fighting for years for recognition. Its members say they historically claimed and occupied Cumberland Island, which became the home of Cumberland House Cree Nation in the 1960s after “a forced amalgamation of five groups of Cree Nation peoples living in the Cumberland areas,” according to the claim. Recognition as a First Nation would carry financial allocations such as gaming revenues from the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority and legal advocacy funds available through FSIN. The band is claiming $2.5 million in lost gaming revenues since 2009 and $500,000 in legal advocacy funds. The band is also asking for damages for “lost opportunity” in land and resource negotiations, social programs and other benefits, totalling $2 million plus interest from October 2009.