Published on July 28, 2014 by Amy
“The principles of respect which we have always espoused to have for each other as First Nations are recognized and held up as a model the whole world over. The wisdom out our Elders and our Chiefs will continue to harness the passions evoked in the political area. We are winning because we continue to advance the truth. Our youth, who will be the Chiefs of their Indian governments tomorrow, are, indeed, our most valuable resource. We must exemplify to them, the strength in the unity of our First Nations because it is our Indian youth who will carry that creed into the future, to successive generations of First Nations.”
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Dr. Ahenakew was born July 28, 1933, at Sandy Lake Indian Reserve. In 1951 he married Grace Ahenakew with whom he has remained married for 34 years. They have three sons, two daughters and five grandchildren. As well, in 1951, David joined the Canadian Army where he would serve for the next sixteen years. He achieved the rank of sergeant while serving in Germany, Egypt and saw action during the Korean War.
In 1984 he was awarded, “The Canadian Decoration” for distinguished service and good conduct in the Canadian army. It was during this time that he completed his education which was to help him in his new battles on behalf of the Treaty Indians of Saskatchewan.
In 1967, his years of service completed, he accepted a position with the Saskatchewan Government as a Placement and Training Officer working closely with the Band Councils.
In 1968, he accepted employment with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and later in the year would be elected Chief of the F.S.I. for the next ten years he would remain in office. During Dr.Ahenakew’s ten year reign as Chief, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians accomplished many tasks. These include successfully negotiating a Federal/ Provincial / Indian Government relations in Saskatchewan. A report entitled” Indian Education in Saskatchewan” which outlined the unsatisfactory situation affecting the education of Indians in the province. Since then, there have been major improvements in the education of Saskatchewan Indians.
In 1972, he helped establish the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College and four years later helped establish the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College while serving as one of the original board members of both institutions. It was during this time that he helped organize a radio and communication network for Saskatchewan Indians. As the same time realizing there was a need for an Indian contingent of the R.C.M.P. he helped establish the Special Constable Program.
Dr. Ahenakew was a founding member of the National Indian Brotherhood and a member of the N.I.B. Executive Council. He was appointed Chairman of both the National Indian Education Legislative Committee and the National Indian Act Revision Committee. David was appointed Co- chairman of the Provincial Policy Committee an Task Force which studied new approaches to Indian administration. He was a member of the N.I.B.- United Nations Committee with observer status and a member of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples.
In 1976 David Ahenakew was presented with an honourary LL.D by the University of Regina.
In 1978, Dr. Ahenakew received, “The Order of Canada” for his unwavering dedication in the advancement of Indian rights. As well, in 1978, Dr. Ahenakew became the first recipient of the “John Strtychuk Memorial Award”” sponsored by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Association.
In 1982, Dr. Ahenakew was elected National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. He was in the forefront of the F.M.C. process. He helped set up the Bilateral Commission, was one of the founders of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples. While in office he secured the support of over 75 percent of the Canadians who said “yes” to the vital aspects of Indian self government.
Since Dr. Ahenakew’s return to Saskatchewan he has continued to work for the advancement of Indian people and the promotion and protection of out Treaties. Dr. Ahenakew now resides in the Sandy Lake reserve with his wife Grace.