The Ermineskin Cree Nation (Reserve #138) is one member of the Four Nations of Maskwacis, Alberta - located in Central Alberta about fifty miles south of Edmonton on Highway 2A, halfway between the towns of Ponoka and Wetaskiwin. The Ermineskin Cree Nations land base is approximately 25'000 acres. This area is traditionally known as the Bear Hills or Maskwacheesihk. The Cree people of the Ermineskin Cree Nation have a historical relationship that extends over centuries to the area of land that now comprises the Ermineskin Reserve. The Ermineskin Reserve was established in 1885. The Ermineskin Cree Nation belongs to the Treaty Six Group of Indian Tribes in Western Canada.
As with other First Nation communities in Canada the Ermineskin Cree Nation continues to maintain its close community identity through preservation of their long and proud history. Although the communities of Maskwacis have benefited from a large oil and gas deposit on their lands, they also enjoy large tracts of prime agricultural land and property on one of Alberta's more popular lakes (Pigeon Lake). Among the many services offered in the Maskwacis area include; the Maskwacis Health Authority, Maskwacis Police Service, ambulance and fire departments, a number of community recreation centers, as well as a Canadian Pacific rail line that runs through the reserve. Finally there are currently a number of small businesses that operate in the town site of Maskwacis.
To help teach and encourage native traditions and the Cree language, the Ermineskin Cree Nation hosts a number of schools including; Ermineskin Kindergarten, Ermineskin Primary, Ermineskin Elementary Junior Senior High, and also supports the Maskwachees Cultural College. The Ermineskin Schools are among the most technologically advanced schools in Canada, having iMAC computers in every classroom, of which all are Internet ready. Along with the school system native traditions are also maintained through a number of celebrations that occur throughout the year.
As the Ermineskin community moves into diversifying its economy away from the oil and gas revenues it must do so with strategies that allow the community to maintain its cultural identity. Working closely with the other regional First Nations and non-indigenous communities, Ermineskin can offer a number of resources and other advantages that will be key in attracting outside investment.
The total land base of the Maskwacis 4 Nations is 291 sq. Km of which 108.62 sq. Km is owned and operated by the almost 3000 members of the Ermineskin Cree Nation. The Reserve is located in close proximity of Alberta's two main cities of Edmonton and Calgary. Some of the more important advantages include:
The Ermineskin Cree Nation is located in the Maskwacis area, which is about 70km south of Edmonton along Highway 2A and at Junction 611 and is only a short distance from Highway 2, which links Edmonton and Calgary. This location allows for easy access to a number of facilities in both centers as well as other cities such as Wetaskiwin, Leduc, and Red Deer. The Edmonton International Airport, which is a mere 30-minute drive and the Calgary International Airport, allows access to virtually any of the world markets.
Access to a number of other amenities including educational facilities such as the University of Alberta, University of Calgary,Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, Red Deer College and Olds Agricultural College are all within a two hour drive from the Reserve. The close proximity of these institutions has produced a number of highly educated Ermineskin members. These same institutions can also play an important role in facilitating research for any initiative that may be started with the Ermineskin Community and they can also be used to help in training Ermineskin Members in specific areas that new ventures might offer.
Other research facilities that can also be utilized in many potential business ventures include the Leduc Agricultural Research Complex, which is only 15 minutes away and can offer state of the art processing equipment.
The current Ermineskin community has about 1300 semi skilled and skilled labor force as well as access to a much larger work force in the three other First Nations tribes that reside in the Maskwacis area.
Should any further expertise be needed, a further source can be drawn from other First Nation communities.
With access to a large supply of oil and gas revenues the Ermineskin Cree Nation is considered to be one of the more economically stable First Nation communities in Canada. Revenues generated have in the past, been used to support community business, purchase outside expertise and to further develop the Tribes infrastructure. These same revenues can also be used to help support future development projects.
Along with oil and gas resources, Ermineskin also has over 10,000 hectares of high quality agricultural land capable of producing annual crops. Land along Pigeon Lake, one of Alberta's most popular lakes, is currently being used for camping.
Ermineskin currently has a number of small home-based arts and crafts businesses and there are a number of artists whose works are well known both inside and outside the First Nation communities.
As a First Nations community Ermineskin has good relations with other First Nations within the Maskwacis regions as well as throughout Canada. These relationships can be used as potential markets for products and as potential joint venture partners.
There is a large base of Government and native programs that provide financial and most other types of assistance to Indigenous based businesses that can be utilized to assist in establishing a marketing program for the Ermineskin Cree Nation.
The location of Ermineskin allows its members easy access to the many secondary education institutions located in Edmonton and Calgary. Whether it is technical, business or academic training, all are available. In the Maskwacis area itself, the Maskwachees Cultural College has operated for over 20 years and can be used for both research and training purposes.
We apologize for getting this Newsletter Issue out later than the normal date for distribution which is to occur on or before the 15th of each month. The reason for this is due to the Publisher Program we use began experiencing a “bug problem” and consistently crashed every time any information was being entered. This problem though has now been addressed.
We also would like to apologize for not being able to get a Newsletter issue out for the month of September as well. Again, due to unforeseen circumstances we were unable to get anything in print.
Chief and Council Swearing in Ceremony held at Ermineskin Elder's Centre.
Chief Craig Makinaw
Council Members Jason Makinaw, Nina Makinaw, Collin Wildcat and Brian Lee.
September 18, 2017
Ermineskin Cree Nation Announces Sale of Lands to City of Parksville
Ermineskin Cree Nation has approved the sale of a tract of land, known locally as the Ermineskin Land, to the City of Parksville. The lands, located at the civic address of 790 Hirst Avenue, encompass approximately 35.9 hectares or 97 acres and were purchased by Ermineskin Cree Nation thirty years ago as a community investment. Since that date, Ermineskin Cree Nation has attempted to utilize the lands as investment property. However, after thirty years of discussions and negotiations with the City of Parksville, Ermineskin Cree Nation has ultimately decided to sell the lands for $1.3 million.
Ermineskin Cree Nation is confident that this decision will allow the Nation to better utilize the investment capital, while also allowing the natural environment within the lands to flourish. The Ermineskin Cree Nation and the City of Parksville share a vision for the preservation and conservation of this important area and the sale of the lands supports that vision by allowing the City's residents and their future generations to enjoy the area. Chief Randy Ermineskin described the vision for the lands using the Cree word "Witaskiwin", which means "living together on the land". The agreement achieves the goals of Witaskiwin by solidifying a land-sharing arrangement among the residents of the City of Parksville.
In furtherance of this vision, and at the request of Ermineskin Cree Nation, the sale of the lands is conditional upon the lands remaining in the Agricultural Land Reserve and being maintained as a park in perpetuity. Ermineskin Cree Nation is pleased that the City of Parksville has agreed to preserve the environmental integrity of the lands. As stated by Chief Randy Ermineskin, "the Ermineskin Cree Nation is honoured to be a part of the City's goal of preserving the environmental integrity of the land by ensuring that all of the City's residents can enjoy the land's natural beauty. The principles of trust, integrity and dignity upon which this transaction is based are hallmarks of Canada's goal of reconciliation and we are proud to have been given the opportunity to help achieve this goal. It would be fitting for the parties to consider placing a monument on the land in the future to commemorate this important agreement."
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