Sioux Valley Dakota Nation And Its Allies Sign a Memorandum of Understanding To Build a New Casino

Three First Nations in Westman, Manitoba, including 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 formally open a fresh casino on land, which owner is Sioux Valley Dakota Nation. This joint venture marks a notable step towards economic reconciliation and shows what determination and unity can do.


On February 9, Vince Tacan, Chief of Sioux Valley, along with his council met with Raymond Brown, Chief of the Canupawakpa Dakota First Nation. Additionally, Chief Don Smoke of the Dakota Plains First Nation participated in the aforementioned meeting through video call.

Relatedly, the proposed location would be close to the Petro-Can station, located in the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, at the corner of Highway 21 and the Trans-Canada Highway, approximately 38 km west of Brandon. Also, the casino, which will be owned by all 3 aforementioned nations, meaning that Sioux Valley will own 34% of the casino while the other 2 will own 33% each, will significantly increase their chances of providing employment opportunities for their young adults. However, that’s not all; because it will also provide spin-off businesses such as the hotel and a convention center, in addition to profit streams.

On that note, Tacan commented: “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.”

Every First Nation will play a role in making the casino project a success, meaning that Canupawakpa and Dakota Plains will offer support with human, financial and political resources, while Sioux Valley will be responsible for logistics, feasibility and political negotiations.

Following the aforementioned MOU, the next step for the said casino project is to work with the province to obtain the necessary gaming license and to produce a feasibility study. In addition to that, the unanimous shareholder agreement is also necessary to cover issues related to running and setting up the casino.

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Meeting with the community about the new casino project:

Asked to provide the comment by The Brandon Sun on February 9, Brandon East Member of the Legislative Assembly and minister responsible for the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation, Glen Simard, commented that his government “was proud to lift the gaming pause” on the fresh establishments, which was set up by the previous PC government 6 years ago, aka in 2018.

In this regard, he commented: “We look forward to receiving this proposal and to continue our ongoing conversations with a number of stakeholders from across Manitoba.”

On a related note, Tacan commented that the said First Nations will have a meeting with the province to talk about the new casino in 2 weeks. Also, he will update the community about the progress of the project, according to The Brandon Sun.

Birth of an idea:

His councilors and Tacan have been considering the idea of building a new casino on the land they bought close to Highway 21 and the Trans-Canada Highway. The primary reason for this idea was that they wanted something that would develop a fresh economic base for their respective community. Tacan added that after a prudent review, this land appeared to be the sole workable option for the casino.

The representatives of the Sioux Valley then talked about the aforementioned idea with the councils from the Dakota Plains and the Canupawakpa, which led to the formation of the powerful team that intended to work together to improve the current economic condition of each of the 3 communities. The unification of the 3 First Nations is because of the fact that they are not part of any additional tribal councils.

Commenting on the idea, Tacan said: “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.”

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There is a real possibility that the new casino could offer job opportunities to young adults from the communities that surround the Sioux Valley. In addition, the Sioux Valley has a good results regarding the development of businesses, which the Petro-Can station is a really good example of.

On that note, he added: “With that experience and with the lessons learned on that, I think we’re well positioned to move forward and successfully complete a casino project and any other project that comes along.”

Participation in the local economy:

Furthermore, Brown commented that he is thrilled that his community is part of the casino plans. In this regard, he 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.”

As for Smoke, he was also thrilled to be involved in the project, and said alliances are key for making his First Nation succeed. On that note, he 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.”

Throughout colonization, when the federal government transferred the Dakota people to reservations, they were placed on land that wasn’t in a convenient location or economically viable, making them dependent on the government for their basic survival, according to Smoke. In this sense, he added: “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 healt lodi777 hier community and attempting to realize a better future for our children and for our families.”

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When looking at all First Nations in Canada, just 2 are sited along the Trans-Canada Highway, which indicates that Indigenous people weren’t in the position to participate in the economy of their individual provinces. That is why the mentioned casino project would represent a crucial part of economic reconciliation, which is part of a broader reconciliation and truth in which the entire province, and therefore the country, participates, according to Tacan.

In this regard, he added: “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.”