Editorial – Silence speaks!

Chris Clegg

Last week, the Edmonton Oilers lost a heart-breaking Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final to the Florida Panthers. Mabe next year!

But it was not the most important hockey event going on in the High Prairie area.

South Peace News decided to check up on High Prairie town council’s efforts to bring back the Treaty 8 First Nations Cup to town next spring. The organization’s two-year agreement with the Town of Slave Lake has expired. High Prairie has a chance to entice the event back to town. It should be all guns blazing moving forward. It is what progressive communities do.

We asked Mayor Brian Panasiuk and each member of town council if “any efforts been made to bring back the Treaty 8 First Nations Cup Hockey Tournament to High Prairie?” in an email June 22.

Not a single response!

Once again, Panasiuk and council must be told point-blank this tournament is a big economic driver for the town. Past Treaty 8 tournaments and the recent Starr Sasakamoose SS Cup Hockey Tournament prove this beyond any reasonable doubt.

But since not one member of council owns a business – well! – it does not seem to be a priority.

Council can not provide one lick of proof they care enough to lobby to bring this tournament back to High Prairie. One would think Panasiuk and council would want to prove to the public they are making efforts to host this tournament. It would also send a message to all Indigenous people we want to bring such events to town and the are welcome.

But the question did not even warrant a response?

This newspaper has suggested to council to use their community fund but it has fallen on deaf ears.

This newspaper has suggested cost-sharing with the High Prairie and Area Chamber of Commerce (if it ever gets running again!) or at least a cost-share plan with local businesses to offset ice fees as an incentive. Once again, deaf ears.

Council has set a new tournament rate. Since Treaty 8 organizers have not jumped at the opportunity, we can assume it is not enough. But, again, we are assuming Treaty 8 was even told about the offer. Mayor and council cannot even tell us that!

What we do know is council just spent over $17,000 (likely now over $20,000) on the Sage Report. The only benefit they got from the report was to suspend two councillors until the end of the year from committee work.

The $20,000 would have offset costs for Treaty 8. At $5,000 a year that is a four-year commitment which in turn brings hundreds of thousands of dollars back to the community. Or over $6,000 a year for three years. Pick your own numbers, do your own math.

Even that wasn’t worth the efforts, however. Council deemed it important enough to go to great lengths to punish two councillors when the mayor was guilty of at least one of the same infractions.

Perhaps there is hope Treaty 8 will eventually return. Perhaps one day council will realize just how important this tournament is to many in the town’s business community. Given by the silence in the mayor’s office, hope is dwindling.

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