A majority of staff at the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations received layoff notices Monday, Chief Perry Bellegarde confirmed.

Notices were handed out to 66 employees. The layoffs will take effect March 31.

Bellegarde attributed the layoffs to budget cuts and dwindling funding from the federal government.

“We were basically facing a $2 million cutback over two fiscal years. That, of course, will have an impact over staffing in the organization,” he said.

Bellegarde said FSIN will not completely shut down. The federation will continue to operate with minimal staff once the layoffs come into effect.

He wants to see FSIN rebuild. The federation wants to be an organization that is not dependant on the federal government or any government, he said.

“Once you’re dependant on INAC [Indian Northern Affairs Canada, now referred to as Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada] money for your operations, you’re really at a standstill. You are not as strong as you can be.”

Bellegarde continues to pursue other revenue streams for the FSIN and said he hopes not all the layoffs will be implemented.