BUFFALO RETURNING TO SASKATCHEWAN RESERVE
A herd of 22 buffalo being donated to Peepeekisis First Nation
Balcarres, Saskatchewan – Monday, December 8, 2014
On Friday, December 12, buffalo will be returning to the Peepeekisis Cree First Nation, 45 minutes east of Regina, near Balcarres. These buffalo have not been purchased, but are being donated to the 2,500 Peepeekisis people as a gift from a group of Pacific Islanders and Canadians.
Island Breeze, a group of Christian volunteer youth and community workers from Samoa in the South Pacific who are permanently located in the Balcarres area, have received a donation of 22 buffalo – two bulls and up to 20 pregnant cows from an Alberta rancher. Island Breeze has chosen to strategically place the herd on Peepeekisis land. The group and the Peepeekisis band council have drawn up a treaty to ensure that this gift of buffalo are for the First Nation as a symbol of cultural identity.
These buffalo have been entrusted to Island Breeze as a gift from Canadians who are committed to see Canada’s First Nations People flourish and regain cultural identity.
Lima Nanai, Director of Island Breeze Saskatchewan, says, “We hope that with the Creator’s blessing, many buffalo calves will be born each year. Our plan is for Peepeekisis to develop a sustainable herd with the offspring of this donation, and then give the original herd of buffalo to another reserve to repeat the process.”
Mike Koochicum, Chief of Peepeekisis First Nation, says, “We have worked with Island Breeze to build a fence to house the buffalo on virgin prairie land. Our grandparents prophesied that the buffalo would come back. We look forward to seeing the herd grow as our people once again raise buffalo as our ancestors did.”
Historically the life of the Plains First Nations was centred on the buffalo. 200 years ago there were over 60 million buffalo spread across North America where they were the source of food, clothing, shelter and livelihood for First Nations people. The encroachment of European settlers and government policies led to the slaughter of all but 100 buffalo by 1900. Today less that 3% of the 800 reserves across the US and Canada have buffalo on them.
About Island Breeze Saskatchewan
Island Breeze Saskatchewan exists to cross cultural barriers to serve and express hope to the First Nations people of Canada with the love of Jesus Christ. This group of Pacific Islanders came to Canada with Youth With A Mission, an international volunteer movement of Christians from many cultures and Christian traditions who are dedicated to serving around the world.
With operations in 8 countries, Island Breeze is committed to redeeming cultures back to God, concentrating on indigenous people groups. They use cultural dance and ceremonial events from Polynesia to open doors typically closed to those of European heritage.
For over 25 years Island Breeze has had a presence in Canada among our First Nations. They have been invited to serve on over 50 of Canada’s 630 reserves and receive invitations to return to over 40 reserves across Canada annually. For more information, visit islandbreezesk.com.
About Peepeekisis Cree First Nation
Peepeekisis First Nation is located 19 kilometers east of Balcarres, Saskatchewan on Highway 10. It is adjacent to Okanese First Nation, Starblanket First Nation and Little Black Bear’s Band. Cau ah ha cha pew (Making Ready the Bow) was the first Chief of this Band, who signed the original treaty, on September 15, 1874 in Qu’Appelle. Upon his death his son, Peepeekisis (Sparrow Hawk), took over the role as Chief. This Band left the Cypress Hills and eventually settled in the File Hills in 1884. At this time there was a population of approximately 142 followers. Today there is a population of 2466 with 758 residing on the reserve. Peepeekisis is part of the Treaty 4 territory along with 35 other Bands from Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba.