Saskatoon

Pelican Lake First Nation to create Saskatoon's 9th urban reserve

The urban reserve is located at 1944 St. George Avenue. Pelican Lake bought into the existing business, Adams Lumber, at that location.

Pelican Lake bought into Adams Lumber, a business at the site of the urban reserve

Mayor Clark and Pelican Lake Chief Peter Bill
Saskatoon Mayor Clark and Pelican Lake First Nation Chief Peter Bill sign an agreement to create the city's ninth urban reserve. (Travis Reddaway/CBC News)

Saskatoon and Pelican Lake First Nation signed an agreement to create an urban reserve at a special ceremony in front of a full room of band members at city hall on Wednesday.

The urban reserve is located at 1944 St. George Ave. Pelican Lake bought into the existing business, Adams Lumber, at that location.

Pelican Lake Chief Peter Bill says the lumber business complements Pelican Lake's other forestry interests. 

"What you take from the land you've got to give back, and reforestation is a big item that we push," Bill said.

"And what we take from, from sakaw askîy (forest and earth), that's what we're going to be building our our houses with."

Pelican Lake First Nation's home reserve is on Chitek Lake, about 270 km northwest of Saskatoon. 

The First Nation is a signatory of Treaty 6 and has more than 1,200 members who live on the home reserve and another 400 members living in communities throughout the province. 

Pelican Lake First Nation Chief Peter Bill
Pelican Lake First Nation Chief Peter Bill says the purchase of Adams Lumber will complement the First Nation's other forestry ventures. (Travis Reddaway/CBC News)

Pelican Lake has also signed forestry agreements with Tolko and Carrier Forest Products.

"The lumber will be supplied direct to Adams Lumber, so it's a preferred cost," Bill said.

"And hopefully all the First Nations will come to do business with us [because] you are gonna save the taxes."

9th urban reserve in Saskatoon

This will be the ninth urban reserve in Saskatoon, the most of any city in Canada. The first one was signed with Muskeg Lake Cree Nation 34 years ago.

Mayor Charlie Clark said it is another major milestone in the path toward reconciliation.

A sign for Adams Lumber.
Pelican Lake First Nation has purchased Adams Lumber, located on St. George Avenue in the Exhibition area. It is the site of the new urban reserve. (Travis Reddaway/CBC News)

"We know that the path toward economic reconciliation is in opportunity, it's in partnerships. It's in many cases in cities where that happens," Clark said. 

"The investment that Pelican Lake has made in Adams Lumber, this historic business in our community, is a sign of their confidence in our community and their willingness to commit to that kind of partnership in our community."

Clark said urban reserves have proven to have a positive impact for everyone.

"If we can build that strong relationship and then we can see that continued investment and the development of these businesses, it certainly helps the whole city become stronger."

The Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners has approved the Police Services Agreement that fulfils the municipal requirements for urban reserve designation. 

The agreements says the city will provide municipal and police services to the reserve while Pelican Lake will pay the city service fees in lieu of property taxes.

"This is just the beginning of our engagement with the city to create opportunities for our urban band members," Bill said.

"During these times in which we are all attentive to truth and reconciliation and healing, we look forward to our participation in the economy and life in Saskatoon as a path to building strong and positive relationships."

The federal government ultimately makes decisions on reserve designation. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Scott Larson works for CBC News in Saskatoon. scott.larson@cbc.ca

now