Whitecap Dakota Nation and Canada sign self-government Treaty

News release

May 2, 2023 — (Ottawa, ON) — Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada and Whitecap Dakota Nation

The Government of Canada is working with First Nation partners to restore respectful nation-to-nation relationships, recognize their inherent right to self-determination and support communities as they move out from under the Indian Act and transition to self-government.

Today, Chief Darcy Bear of Whitecap Dakota Nation and the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations signed A Self-Government Treaty Recognizing the Whitecap Dakota Nation / Wapaha Ska Dakota Oyate.

Co-developed by Canada and Whitecap Dakota Nation, this Treaty recognizes the Whitecap Dakota Nation as one of the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada, affirming their inherent right to self-government under the Constitution Act, 1982. Whitecap Dakota Nation’s Treaty focuses on self-government and is the first of its kind in Saskatchewan. The parties have committed to build on this new Treaty relationship founded in reconciliation of Whitecap Dakota’s rights in Canada.

By signing this Treaty, the Government of Canada recognizes that Whitecap Dakota Nation has jurisdiction and law-making powers on their reserve lands over governance, land, natural resources, membership, cultural matters, language revitalization and preservation, education, financial management and accountability, health and social services. Through this Treaty, the Whitecap Dakota Nation can build on its success in creating economic opportunities and enhance community well-being for the benefit of its members for generations to come.

Whitecap Dakota Nation’s Treaty is an important opportunity for Whitecap to move out from under the Indian Act, implement their right to self-government and ensure increased First Nation control over the decisions affecting their community.


“I am incredibly proud of our community as we make history together to better the lives of generations to come. Our Governance Treaty with Canada affirms our place as Dakota peoples alongside all other Aboriginal Peoples in Canada with constitutional protections. It also establishes a Whitecap Dakota government with the tools and status to continue to build our nation and contribute to Saskatchewan and Canada as whole.”

Chief Darcy Bear
Whitecap Dakota Nation

“Congratulations to the Whitecap Dakota Nation, its leadership, Elders and all those who worked for so long at the negotiating table to bring this historic Treaty to life. Recognizing that this Treaty is long over-due and rightfully owed, this Treaty will set the foundation of our nation-to-nation relationship by formally recognizing Whitecap Dakota Nation as an Aboriginal People of Canada under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and affirming their inherent right of self-government. I look forward to continuing our work together on all our shared priorities and supporting your vision of a better future for your People.”

The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

Quick facts

  • Self-government negotiations between the parties began in 2009 and concluded in April 2023.

  • A Whitecap Advisory Committee of elders, youth, women and community members helped to shape the agreement and ensure the process protected First Nation perspectives, culture and customs.

  • The self-government Treaty was approved by Whitecap members in an initial vote that took place on October 6-7, 2022, with 92 percent of those who voted voting in favour.

  • The Treaty was later amended by the parties in April 2023 to formally recognize Whitecap Dakota Nation as one of the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada and to affirm its inherent right to self-government.

  • The Treaty incorporates two new key elements to provide greater clarity and alignment with the Whitecap Dakota Nation’s vision for self-government in a way that better meets their distinct circumstances, goals and priorities.

  • Following further community approval, the self-government Treaty was signed today. The next step is federal legislation to bring the self-government Treaty into effect.

  • The First Nation will also need to pass their own laws to create and run their new governance system.

  • This work will be supported by increased funding to the First Nation to carry out their new responsibilities and invest in community priorities for a better future.

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Aissatou Diop
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations

CIRNAC Media Relations:

Maddie Fast
Chief and Council Operations

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