Welcome : About OCN : History of OCN
Prior to contact with the European society, native people of The Pas area maintained themselves by reaping the bountiful resources available in this area. Dramatic changes occurred in the way of the life of the Native people after the European
traders came to the Saskatchewan River area.
In 1743 Laverendrye built the first Fort Paskoyac on behalf of the French on the southwest shore of Cedar Lake. A fort was also built in 1749 at the location of present day Town of The Pas and named Fort Pasko yak. Another major influence in the change of way of lifestyle of the Band's ancestors came with the coming of the Missionaries. In 1840 the Church Missionary Society established Devon Mission at The Pas. The Reverend Henry Budd established the mission and from that date forward The Pas area has had a resident priest. The Reverend Budd and his successors drew a good number of Indian people from the area to their mission and by the late 1960's there was a sizeable settlement at The Pas. There continued to be seasonal migration to areas where hunting and fishing was good.
On September 7, 1876 The Pas Treaty Band signed Treaty No.5. The Band that signed the Treaty consisted of people at The Pas, Birch River and Pas Mountain where the Red Earth and Shoal Lake people lived. The Canadian idea behind such treaties was to clear off the burden of aboriginal title so that orderly and systematic use of the land could take place. On the other hand, the objective of the Indian people of this area was to work out a suitable arrangement, which define and recognize their rights and continuing Relationship between them and the Canadian government. The main portion of Opaskwayak Cree Nation Band's reserve lands were surveyed in 1882 by W.A. Austin. On August 4, 1906, Opaskwayak Cree Nation (formally known as The Pas Indian Band) surrendered the most Northerly 500 acres in "Block A" of their reserves (less 3 acres to be retained for Indian Agency buildings and a small parcel of the land along the Pasquia River). This Land, in part, became the town site of The Pas on the south bank of the Saskatchewan River. The three acres known as the "Agency Grounds" was surrendered for sale in 1919. After the 1906 surrender the members of Opaskwayak Cree Nation relocated to the north side of the Saskatchewan River directly across from the Town. The Town of The Pas grew up on the south bank and was incorporated in 1912. The reserve itself saw little development between the 1880's and the 1960's however, they were in frequent contact with the townspeople and many were integrated into the main stream economic system. The economic system consisted of lumbering, fishing, hunting and agriculture along with related transportation, communication and service industries. This diverse economy continues to the present day.
Since the 1960's the Chief and Council of Opaskwayak Cree Nation have pursued greater autonomy in the management of Band Affairs. This move toward local autonomy was paralleled by a community development strategy aimed at strengthening the Band's economic base and improving the quality of life for its members. In developing a system for local government the Band pursued three broad avenues of approach: Developing of administration and program delivery; development of local government authority; and development of enterprises.
Opaskwayak Cree Nation Administration began in 1968 when the Department of Indian Affairs allowed the Band to take over a very small portion of the financial and administration services. In the Spring of 1969, the Social Assistance Department was formed and the Band had its first Welfare Administration. In the early 1970's the Band gradually assumed the administration of other programs such as Economic Development, portions of Public Works, Lands and other. Twenty-nine years later, Opaskwayak Cree Nation has a work force of 800 during the
summer season to approximately 550 the remaining of the year.
Opaskwayak Cree Nation has developed a lot for their people such as, a school well known as Joe. A. Ross school for all grades, a Community Plex for the events of bingo, socials and community events etc. In 1995 construction of a hotel known as Kikiwak Inn was built and completed in July 1996. Otineka Shopping Mall was built in the early 1970's and opened in the 1975. The McGillivary Care Home was constructed in 1982 for the elders and a Six-Plex for the elderly. The community of Opaskwayak Cree Nation has two churches on the reserve. The Church of Redeemer is situated in Big Eddy, and the Church of Messiah is situated in the townsite area. Both of these Churches have been recently constructed to replace the old churches. The sites where the old churches were situated are now set aside as Sacred Grounds.
The Band is governed by the Chief and twelve Councilors who are elected according to the Indian Act for a two- year term. The reserve consists of 17 parcels of land varying in size from 10 to 5200 acres and totaling less then 15,000 acres. The most populated settlements are located in and around the Town of The Pas.
On January 22, 1999, The Opaskwayak Cree Nation celebrated the signing of its Treaty Land Entitlement Agreement (TLEA) and the resolution of the long outstanding Treaty obligations. The Opaskwayak Cree Nation is entitled to an additional 22,669 hectares (56.068 acres) to be set a side as reserve land. The province of Manitoba will provide 19,287 acres of Crown land and Canada will provide $2,153,051 to enable Opaskwayak Cree Nation to purchase up to 3,403 hectares (8,410 acres) of land where Crown land is unavailable. This land purchase will be made on a willing buyer/willing seller basis. In addition, Canada will provide the Opaskwayak Cree Nation with $1,364,397 for the use and benefit of its members. Funding for this initiative is built into fiscal frame works. The FrameWork Agreement settles the land debt that is owned to the 19 first nations under Treaties 1,2,3,4,5,6 and 10 because they did not receive all the land they were entitled to.
Opaskwayak Cree Nation has several Boards and Committees. Some of these Committees/Boards include Paskwayak Business Development Corporation (the Economic Development arm of Opaskwayak Cree Nation) Opaskwayak Educational Authority, Community Works and Operations, Community Services, Opaskwayak Cree Nation Blizzard. The Blizzard Hockey is owned by Opaskwayak Cree Nation and managed by Blizzard Board. This organization has accomplished a lot for its Band Members. The successful hockey team formed in 1996, which inspired and created a sense of community spirit for Opaskwayak Cree Nation.
In Finance and Administration Committee, they oversee the finances of Opaskwayak Cree Nation through management of the Accounting Department, Video Lotto Center, Ticket Center, Bingo Hall (Community Plex), Natotawin (Community Police Department.
The Community Services Committee oversees the services aspect of Opaskwayak Cree Nation through management and operations of Hilda Young Child Care Center, Kawachetonanow Center, Employment and Training, Social Services, Otineka Health Center. Community and Operations Committee oversees the Capital aspect of Opaskwayak Cree Nation through management and operations consisting of Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Fire Department, Gordon Lalthin Memorial Center, Water/Sewer Treatment Plants, Maintenance Department.
The Pas Band Development Authority Inc Board oversees the legal aspects of Opaskwayak Cree Nation through management and operations of its Membership Department, Land management and. Environment Department, The FrameWork Agreement Initiative, TLE/Land Claims Section and Opaskwayak Cree Nation Gaming Commission.
Currently Opaskwayak Cree Nation has a total population of 4652 with an on-reserve population of 2850.