There is a population of near 700 Four Nation Band Members at the Pigeon Lake Indian Reserve 138A, and over half of this population are Samson Band members. The people of the Pigeon Lake Indian Reserve are geographically 90km located away from the mainstream of Programs and Services afforded to the 4 Nation Band members at Maskwacis. Employment and Wellness Programs are non-existent. Social Allowance is the main financial resource for most of the Pigeon Lake Samson Band Members. The Pigeon Lake Samson Satellite office was officially created by former Band
Administrator Holly Johnson-Rattlesnake and her assistant Ruby Potts.
Today, the Pigeon Lake Samson Satellite office is a First Nation Development Funded Program, with the responsibility of developing programs and services for the Pigeon Lake Samson Band members. This is achieved through a coordination of team players working in partnership with the Samson Satellite Coordinator and the program managers from Maskwacis. Their task is to address issues in a challenging community environment with barriers of limited supports and financial resources. In January, 2014, after securing a Peace Hills Insurance Grant for the Pigeon Lake Samson Band members, the satellite Coordinator appointed Ms. Grace Dion to commence Community Strategic Planning Sessions. Elders and youth were the priority focus groups at all the gatherings. It was determined that it would be ESSENTIAL to include all the Pigeon Lake 4 Nation members in the Planning Sessions to strengthen connection and bridge the gap of all Nation
members for effective program implementation. An artisan, Miss Melanie Rowan and with the support of the satellite coordinator, commenced an Indian Arts and Crafts Sewing Project utilizing the PHGI Grant. In March, 2014, working together as a team, the satellite Coordinator and former Ermineskin Band Councillor Sam Minde commenced community meetings which included 4 band members of Pigeon Lake. Monthly Strategic Planning meetings were held and a 2014 to 2015 Community Work Plan was developed with the hope that program implementation may start to occur in 2015.
The Samson Income Support Program manager, Miss Lori Dennehy and the Satellite Coordinator maintain a strong working relationship to ensure the Social Allowance Program is effectively serving all the Samson SA recipients at Pigeon Lake. Delcie Peigan and Leon Bruno are the assigned Income Support Workers working with their clients on site at the Pigeon Lake Satellite Office. After the Planning meetings with the Maskwacis Cultural College and the Satellite Coordinator during the spring of 2014, MCC implemented a Women’s Literacy Program at the Samson Satellite Office with start date September 2014 to March 2015. A Men’s Literacy Program will commence the Spring of 2015. Elaine Deschamps, the MCC Literacy Coordinator created a classroom at the Satellite Office to accommodate the Literacy Program and future training programs, in coordination with MEC. Working with the Samson Consultation Program, the Satellite Coordinator and Councillor Holly Johnson-Rattlesnake accompanied by a small group of Pigeon Lake Samson Elders and youth, took a tour of a Coal Mine Site at Robb Alberta in the fall of 2014. The purpose of the tour was to bring awareness on the importance of Reclamation work required at the Pigeon Lake Indian Oil Lease sites. The tour was very educational. The Pigeon Lake Indian reserve was once an area of abundance, with our drinking water and plenty of fish to eat.
The original families at the Pigeon Lake Indian reserve were the Maskakopwat, the Rowan (Roan), the Yellowbirds, the Greens, and the Firingstoney; as identified by late Daystone Louie Potts. Their stories reveal the growth of a natural garden of vegetables like wild turnips ginger and wild onions with plenty of every kind of berries. The Yellowbird, Late Pete Rowan family and the late Billy Potts family created their own gardens, with garden seeds and potatoes provided by the Indian agent and farmer instructor. The after math of the oil exploration at Pigeon Lake has left the reserve in a desolate state. There is no longer the abundance of natural fruit berries and vegetables. The land, the lake and the air quality in its contaminated state, affects the health and livelihood of all people at Pigeon Lake. With the young adults acknowledging the state of the environment, it is their concern to commence working together in bringing restoration and building the community of the Pigeon Lake Indian reserve 138A.
Submitted by Bernice Stoney Buffalo, Pigeon Lake Samson Satellite Coordinator.