Three First Nations in Westman, Manitoba, Canada, comprising the Dakota Plains First Nation, the Canupawakpa Dakota First Nation and the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, have officially signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to open a new casino.
The casino would be located close to the Petro-Can station, in the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, at the corner of Highway 21 and the Trans-Canada Highway, approximately 38 km west of Brandon.
It would be owned by all three nations with Sioux Valley owning 34 per cent and the other two tribes owning 33 per cent.
Vince Tacan, Chief of Sioux Valley, said: “It’s going to give our people a chance to take our place at the table when we talk about small business training and those kinds of things. It’s going to open the door not only to our youth here in Sioux Valley, but from the participating communities. We all face the same difficulties in our communities, we’re all struggling with different things and resources, so this is something that’s going to help us. I think we’re well positioned to move forward and successfully complete a casino project and any other project that comes along.”
“I’m hoping that we can finally participate in our local economy, that we can bring some tourism and opportunity and a little bit of optimism for the people in our area,” he added.
Raymond Brown, Chief of the Canupawakpa Dakota First Nation, added: We as Dakota people don’t have much of anything. You look around and see that we don’t have business and tribal councils. We are here, too. These are our lands, too. I’m very happy we’re moving forward.”
Chief Don Smoke of the Dakota Plains First Nation, said: “We’ve tried everything we could out here within our own area. However, our market is just not there, our traffic is not there. We don’t have enough people in the area to benefit from economic development, so partnerships are the key for us. We still refuse to conform to what the government wants. As Dakotas, we’re still defiant. We haven’t given away any of our rights, any of our resources, any of our minerals, and I think it is a way of getting back to a healthier community and attempting to realize a better future for our children and for our families.”
The next hurdle will be getting the necessary gaming license and to produce a feasibility study.
Promisingly, the minister for the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation, Glen Simard, said: “I am proud to lift the gaming pause. We look forward to receiving this proposal and to continue our ongoing conversations with a number of stakeholders from across Manitoba.”