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Canada: Saskatchewan Dakota Dunes Helps the First Nation Tribe
Sunday, 06 October 2013 21:10

This article came from the Globe and Mail in Toronto, Canada:

The leaders of the tiny Whitecap Dakota First Nation were talking about creating a golf course 30 years ago when Darcy Bear was still in high school.

It was a grandiose dream for a dusty reserve of a couple hundred people a half hour’s drive south of Saskatoon where folks still used outhouses, homes lacked even basic foundations, the unemployment rate topped 70 per cent, and the band’s bank-account balance was preceded by a minus sign.

But Dakota Dunes, which finally opened in 2005, is ranked number 15 by Golf Digest out of the roughly 3,500 courses in Canada. It is a challenging, traditional links course (minus the rugged coast), ranging over 7,300 yards of rolling scrub. More than 25,000 games are played here every year, and Dakota Dunes is contributing more than $500,000 annually to the reserve economy. The course has become a cornerstone of the success that the Whitecap Dakota have created since Mr. Bear was elected chief in 1991 and demonstrated what a struggling First Nation can accomplish when it aims not just to survive but to thrive.

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“We didn’t have $1 in our bank account,” Mr. Bear said. There were no financial policies or governance structures. Loans and advances were being dispersed from band funds to community members, never to be repaid. There was no transparency; there was even less hope. “The easiest thing to do would have been to walk away,” the chief said.

But that would have meant walking away from a community that had managed to endure for more than a century on some of the most unforgiving land in southern Saskatchewan. Government officials have taken note of the turnaround.

“Whitecap Dakota First Nation is just one excellent example of a community that has shown great leadership to develop their economy and improve lives on the reserve,” said Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt. “I commend the commitment of Chief Darcy Bear and of their community to a strong, accountable and transparent government.”

To read the rest of the article click HERE .

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