Darcy Bear is the Chief of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation and Chairman of the Board of the Whitecap Development Corporation (WDC). Chief Bear has dedicated himself to the betterment of his community since being elected to Council in 1991 at the age of 23.
He is currently in his eighth term, and seventh consecutive term as Chief. He has guided the WDC as Chairman since 1994, where he has been the impetus behind extensive economic development within the community, and the driving force for improved quality of life for Whitecap residents, and the people of Saskatchewan. As Whitecap’s leader, Chief Bear has always maintained an intense focus on community development and has worked to bring greater fiscal accountability, transparency and good governance to his community.
While today Whitecap boasts a list of modern capital projects, this has not always been the case. Even though Whitecap is situated only 25 minutes from Saskatoon and its modern infrastructure, the reserve was not so lucky. Chief Bear remembers a time when he used to help his grandfather cut wood to heat their home, haul water from a well to drink, and undertake the day-to-day chores to sustain the family’s livestock.
Whitecap now serves as a national example of positive community development and heightened self-determination. Using a comprehensive and diversified economic development plan which is heavy on partnership and big on goals, Whitecap community members enjoy modern infrastructure, complete with a state of the art water treatment plant staffed by certified operators. Whitecap has been the site of a host of projects that have served to improve the quality of life for his community members. Projects include: The Dakota Dunes Golf Links — an economic alliance of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation, Muskeg Lake Cree Nation and the Lac La Ronge First Nation, who together created the world-class golf course that opened in 2004 (Dakota Dunes Golf and Country Club recently ranked fifteenth of public courses in Canada by Golf Digest Magazine, February 2013 issue). This was followed by SIGA’s investment of the $65 million, 80,000 square foot Dakota Dunes Casino erected in 2007. This partnership benefits all 74 First Nations. Whitecap’s and SIGA executed a long-term commercial lease and a service fee agreement equivalent to a real-property tax in other jurisdictions. These agreements enabled Whitecap to invest millions in the following infrastructure: commercial water and sewer services; three-phase power; expanded natural gas capacity; cell tower; high-speed fibre connectivity; telecommunications services; paved roads and street lights.
Chief Bear has worked hard to build lasting relationships with surrounding communities, as well as First Nations and non-First Nations peoples, through tourism partnerships, and agreements with Saskatoon Fire and Protective Services, the Saskatoon Board of Education, the Saskatoon Tribal Council, Municipal, Provincial and Federal Governments. A proud achievement of working in partnership is the designation of Highway 219 running through the Whitecap community as the Chief Whitecap Trail tourism corridor. These are just a few examples of the acumen Whitecap and its leader have shown in the form of business and public policy vision, political negotiating skills, accountability initiatives, and innovative partnerships with agencies at all levels of government.
Never forgetting where his people came from, Chief Bear is driven to work with his members, Council and staff to break this cycle of dependency, to empower the people and to rebuild the Whitecap Dakota First Nation by embracing a spirit of their ancestors who were once the engine of thriving economy and whose economies were defined by successful entrepreneurship.
Chief Bear’s contributions to his community, to his province and to his country have not gone unnoticed, as he has been widely-recognized for his economic, business and cultural achievements. He was a recipient of the Commemorative Medal for the Centennial of Saskatchewan in 2005, he was named one of the “Ten Most Influential People” by Saskatchewan Business Magazine and was awarded the CANDO “Economic Developer of the Year” in 2006. In 2009, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) awarded Chief Bear the Circle of Honour Award for Community-Based First Nation Business, recognizing his achievements in establishing and growing the Whitecap Development Corporation and its investments. In December 2011, Chief Bear was honoured with the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, the highest recognition given to residents of province. On January 25, 2012, Whitecap Dakota First Nation, together with Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan, signed the Framework Agreement for Self Governance, which kick-started Whitecap’s journey towards self-governance. And, on May 23, 2012, Chief Bear was honoured with the Diamond Jubilee Medal, reflecting his commitment to service.
As a respected business leader, Chief Bear has volunteered his expertise on many business boards and committees. He has served terms on the boards of Saskatoon Economic Development Authority, Sask Tel, Enterprise Saskatchewan, and Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies.
Chief Bear has dedicated nearly half of his life to his community since becoming a leader. He has been innovative in his approach to business development and has invited other First Nations to partner with Whitecap Development Corporation and share in the benefits of profitable business relationships. He has contributed to Saskatchewan First Nations through his volunteer involvement on many First Nation and Saskatoon Tribal council economic boards and committees. He has also furthered First Nation relationships with the non-First Nation community and particularly the Saskatchewan business community through his partnerships and relationship building strategies.
Please use the following email to reach Chief Bear: Darcy.Bear@labrc.com
Elected as a Prairie Region Director for the First Nations Lands Advisory Board in October 2016