South Peace News
Everyone on High Prairie town council wants to recognize meetings are held on the traditional lands of First Nation, Metis and Inuit, but they are bogged down when it comes to the wording of the statement.
A lively discussion occurred at council’s Nov. 9 meeting when the wording was presented for approval. It reads as follows:
“The Town of High Prairie acknowledges Treaty 8 territory; the ancestral and traditional territory of the Cree, Dene, as well as the Metis. We acknowledge the many First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples whose footsteps have marked these lands for generations, including the many places that you are joining from. We are grateful for the traditional Knowledge Keepers and Elders who are still with us today and those who have gone before us. Our recognition of this land is an act of reconciliation and an expression of our gratitude to those whose territory we reside on, or are visiting.”
Councillor Judy Stenhouse moved the statement be posted only on the Town of High Prairie’s Website.
However, Councillor Sacha Martens immediately asked why it could not be posted on the website and read before each meeting.
“I’d like to see both,” added Councillor James Waikle, who added he proposed the wording but was open to change.
“This is what I read before the [High Prairie] Red Wing games,” he added.
“Let’s be genuine and make our own statement,” Stenhouse proposed.
“I’m not married to these exact words,” Waikle responded.
Councillor Therese Yacyshyn had another concern.
“It’s a little bit lengthy,” she said, adding she would like to see Elders consulted.
Councillor Donna Deynaka appeared frustrated.
“To read this before a council meeting will take what, two minutes. “It’s a simple thing, read it or don’t read it.
“Do it now and it will be done for the next meeting. C’mon, people, it’s a simple gesture.”
Later, Martens added she timed the statement and it took “under a minute”.
Mayor Brian Panasiuk shared his thoughts.
“Do we want to be tied to these words?” he asked, adding if any change occurred it would have to return to council for change and approval.
Councillor John Dunn agreed the statement needed to be read and said “keepers of the land” was not included in the statement which was very important to First Nations.
Council passed a motion to post the statement on its website. A second motion was passed to read a statement before each meeting but the wording was not agreed upon. Waikle moved to consult with Elders on the wording of the statement but also fired a warning.
“I don’t want this to take six months,” he said.
“If council chooses not to pass it for any reason, I’ll read it anyway.”