The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations has voted to change its name after five decades.
While the abbreviation will remain the same, it will now be known as the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations.
There were many passionate arguments for and against each word, but the desire for change won out. It was voted through at the FSIN spring assembly in North Battleford.
Chief Bobby Cameron said this change comes from years of discussions and progress.
“It’s a message and it’s a reaffirmation, a recognition of our First Nations to our provincial and federal governments that our 74 First Nations communities, our territories do practice their sovereignty, they do exercise their own jurisdiction and laws and this work is going to continue,” Cameron said.
He said words are incredibly significant and he supports the decision.
Several people argued both ‘Saskatchewan’ and ‘Indian’ are colonial words forced on them. One speaker emphasized the fact First Nations are not from India, and therefore indigenous people shouldn’t be called Indians. Another speaker said he always preferred the word Indian because it reminds people the colonizers who came here were lost.
Andre Bear of the FSIN Youth Council said growing up, the word Saskatchewan reminded him of the colonial borders placed to divide First Nations people, who he said have always stretched beyond colonial bounds.
Bear said he was proud of the change, and when they have the opportunity to remind youth they are a sovereign people through something as simple as a name change, it is something worth doing.
“When we start using these words and reminding our youth, our young people, of these words they will start to ask themselves, ‘What is sovereignty and where does that come from?’ And so I congratulate each and every one of you for making that decision,” he said.
The FSIN Assembly will continue Thursday in North Battleford.