ARCHIVED - Whitecap Dakota First Nation Economic Development Partnerships

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Whitecap Dakota First Nation demonstrates the importance of establishing solid partnerships with neighbouring communities to support mutually beneficial economic plans such as the Dakota Dunes Golf Course and the Dakota Dunes Casino.

Transcript: Whitecap Dakota First Nation Economic Development Partnerships

Welcome to Whitecap Dakota First Nation Reserve, situated on 2,000 hectares of rolling prairie grasslands.

In the 1860s Chief Whitecap led his people, part of the Dakota Nation, to this area…where to this day 300 band members live.

From the earliest days when Chief Whitecap helped John Lake establish the city of Saskatoon, to today, Whitecap Dakota First Nation has realized the importance of establishing solid partnerships to support mutually beneficial economic plans.

"Chief Whitecap told John Lake that this is the finest location in the entire Saskatchewan River Valley Basin for European settlement, hence the city of Saskatoon was started.

And we've always had a long standing relationship with the city…that's one thing Chief Whitecap, established, and today of course we have a beautiful multi-cultural city that's right next door to us and it's become our primary market so, the Chief certainly had a great vision."

Today, partnerships are an integral part of Whitecap Dakota's strategy to develop an economically self-sustaining & growing community with financially independent band members.

The Dakota Dunes, a championship, 18-hole golf course that opened in 2004, is the result of a partnership with the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation and the Lac La Ronge First Nation. It is also a testament to the strong leadership of Whitecap's Chief and council.

"This golf course is a perfect example of working in partnership….we brought on board a couple of other successful First Nations and we joined forces with them. It was named by Golf Digest 'The best Golf Course in Canada in 2005'…"

The Dakota Dunes is exemplary of Whitecap Dakota's effective use of resources while respecting the Dakota culture and protecting the environment.

"I think the best way to describe Dakota Dunes Golf Links is natural, it's a very natural setting… it's a unique piece of land for the Saskatoon area, but the golf course itself fits naturally into its surroundings.

The Golf Links is one of several economic development projects initiated since Whitecap Dakota adopted the First Nations Land Management Act in 2003, to increase flexibility and control over their own lands. the summer of 2007, the Dakota Dunes Casino opened its doors for business.

This world-class facility attracts over a million visitors per year, providing employment for Whitecap Dakota members and many others from the surrounding region.

"I'm now the human resources officer at Dakota Dunes Casino. I started in September of 2007 as a surveillance operator…I then moved onto guest services, security, manager on duty and then human resources.

When I first came into leadership with our community here, we had an unemployment rate of about 70% and today we have an unemployment rate of about 6%, ….and we actually have more jobs than people today…"

With revenue generated from the casino, and taxation systems like the Whitecap Community Improvement Fee, monies are re-invested into infrastructure, housing and future economic development.

"Well the project that we just put in here is the new water infrastructure, water and sewer and then came the roads, and then the housing, it all came together, all virtually at the same time this year, ….and it goes to show with good management, you know, good things do happen."

The future holds a lot of promise for Whitecap Dakota First Nation… whose people remember the past and the chief who led their ancestors to this mid-western prairie land.

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