From left, Elder Jim Tootoosis, SIGA Chair-Chief Reginald Bellerose; City of Lloydminster’s Mayor Aalbers, Lloydminster-Saskatchewan MLA Colleen Young, Little Pine First Nation’s Chief Wayne Semaganis, Onion Lake Cree Nation’s Chief Wallace Fox, FSIN Vice-Chief Robert Merasty, and SIGA President and CEO Zane Hansen.
Chiefs, counsellors, gaming and government dignitaries gathered in Lloydminster to celebrate the sod turning ceremony at the site of the future Lloydminster Casino on June 12.
Blaine Favel emceed the event, and Poundmaker Cree Nation’s Elder, Jim Tootoosis, offered an opening prayer. Little Pine First Nation’s Chief, Wayne Semaganis, shared welcoming comments along with his hopes for creating something better for first nations’ youth.
“For many, their image of Lloydminster is wrong; it is the warmest community. Thank you for helping to make our future better,” said Semaganis.
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nation’s (FSIN) Second Vice Chief, Robert Merasty, shared his love of making positive announcements, and congratulated members on behalf of the 74 First Nations of Saskatchewan.
“To create jobs and training takes vision, commitment, and the building of partnerships. As a result, everyone will benefit by creating a better lifestyle for our people, while incorporating traditional values and alleviating disparity within our communities,” said Merasty.
Members of the Seeskaskootch Drum Group from Onion Lake performed an Honour Song at the sod turning event in Lloydminster on June 12.
MLA of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, Colleen Young, shared supporting comments, saying that in addition to employment, the project would provide economic development for the surrounding communities both during construction, and after when the casino is open for business. She also noted that the investment will benefit other sectors including health care, infrastructure, and education.
City of Lloydminster Mayor, Gerald Aalbers, congratulated members on the monumental occasion and wished them every success in their exciting and inspirational venture.
According to SIGA Director of Communications and Media Relations, Melody Lynch, the casino is expected to employ 140 people, and will disperse 50 percent of its revenue to Saskatchewan First Nations communities through the First Nations Trust. The remaining revenue will be split: 25 per cent to local initiatives through regional Community Development Corporations, and 25 per cent to the Saskatchewan Government’s General Revenue Fund.
Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) Chairman, Chief Reg Bellerose, said that the casino will not only generate revenue, but continue helping communities for the long haul by funding areas like youth and elders.
The ceremony was redirected outdoors, where Seekaskootch Drum Group from Onion Lake Cree Nation performed a traditional honour song. Dignitaries were eager to grab a shovel and participate in the sod turning ceremony.
A luncheon was held in the afternoon at the Lloydminster Days Inn, where Onion Lake Cree Nation’s Chief Wallace Fox, and SIGA’s President and CEO Zane Hansen, joined honoured guests in sharing their remarks. The celebration continued on June 13, at the Stockade Convention Centre with a complimentary barbeque for interested community members. Patrons enjoyed the cultural performances, and SIGA shared information on employment opportunities as well as information and displays on casino site development.
The Seeskaskootch Drum Group from Onion Lake performed an Honour Song at the sod turning event in Lloydminster on June 12. Photos Angela Mouly