Over half the population of the Sagkeeng First Nation doesn’t live on the reserve, but remain involved, and are now creating an urban committee in Winnipeg to make sure their voices are heard back home.
In early October, members of the first nation living in Winnipeg put out a call for nominations for a “Sagkeeng Off-Reserve Committee.” The five-person committee will represent the thousands of “urban Sagkeeng Band members” at council meetings. The committee is calling for two youth between the ages of 16 and 20, a male and female representative, along with an elder over the age of 65.
The Sagkeeng First Nation website said of its 7,637 members only about 3,352 actually live on the reserve. The reserve is located near the southeast banks of Lake Winnipeg, about 126 kilometres from Winnipeg.
“Everybody wants to be involved right – I mean everybody wants to be heard,” said Sagkeeng First Nation Chief Derrick Henderson. “They are always welcome to come to all of our functions, they are welcome to come to all of our band assemblies.”
Henderson said this committee is not an official political party and the council is not involved with its creation. The chief said because the Sagkeeng council only receives funding for on-reserve programming, the group is not receiving any funding either.
Henderson said it is a voice for the people.
“We try to help with the off-reserve members they are entitled to health and education,” he said.
In a Facebook post, one of the organizers said eligible nominees must be Sagkeeng band members and residents of Winnipeg. They will be required to sign an oath of confidentiality, and they have to be willing to travel to meetings.
Nominations and voting will take place in Winnipeg on Oct. 27.