The chiefs of three southwestern Manitoba First Nations are waiting anxiously for the provincial government to give the green light to a casino project in Sioux Valley Dakota Nation.

On Feb. 9, Sioux Valley Chief Vince Tacan and his council met with Chief Raymond Brown of Canupawakpa Dakota First Nation and Chief Don Smoke of Dakota Plains First Nation to sign a memorandum of understanding to build a casino near Sioux Valley’s Petro-Can station on the corner of the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 21, about 38 kilometres west of Brandon.

“As I suspected, there (has been) no announcement in this regard,” Tacan told the Sun on April 5 via text message.

The MOU outlined that all three First Nations would own the casino, with Sioux Valley owning 34 per cent and the other First Nations 33 per cent.

In time, a convention centre and hotel would also be built, Tacan said. Each First Nation, he said, would be responsible for the success of the project, with Sioux Valley overseeing political negotiations, feasibility and logistics, and Dakota Plains and Canupawakpa providing political, financial, and human resources and support.

After the signing of the MOU, Tacan said the next phase would be to develop a feasibility study and work with the province to get a gaming licence. The Sun contacted the office of Glen Simard, Brandon East MLA and minister responsible for the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation, but did not get a response.

A meeting between the First Nations and the province took place on Feb. 21, Brown said. Simard’s press secretary, Caedmon Malowany, confirmed this but had no new information to share.

“We met with Premier Wab Kinew and his ministers,” Brown told the Sun. “They said that they were going to look at everybody’s projects and go with those ones that were more vital and more sustainable, and that we needed to put all the legal entities in place and get some feasibility studies done.”

The feasibility study for the casino has since been completed and Brown said each First Nation has been meeting with lawyers to pave the way forward.

“We have our own contractors that are able to come in. Everybody’s ready now — we just need the green light and the go-ahead from the minister and the premier so we can start the process,” he said.

Tacan said he would like to survey people from the Brandon area to see what they thought about the casino.

“Would they favour an Aboriginal run casino in Brandon, or would they prefer a casino operated by the city?” Tacan said in a text message.

A call to Smoke was not returned by deadline.

By Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Apr 12, 2024 at 08:11

This item reprinted with permission from   Brandon Sun   Brandon, Manitoba
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