by Colin Smith
Furthering the relationship between Morinville and Alexander First Nation and supporting the truth and reconciliation process are the goals of a joint task force being set up by the two communities.
Council unanimously approved the creation of the Alexander First Nation/Town of Morinville Joint Partnership Task Force at its Tuesday regular meeting.
The move follows a June 14 meeting between members of Council and Alexander First Nation Chief George Arcand Jr. and Council.
As Council representatives to the task force, Mayor Barry Turner recommended Deputy Mayor Nicole Boutestein and Councillor Stephen Dafoe. The rationale was that they are Sponsors for Council’s Strategic Priority #2, focused on regional collaboration.
In response, Dafoe said that while he would be honoured to represent Council on the task force, Councillors Sarah Hall and Scott Richardson were the best choices for the role because of their longstanding relationships with the First Nation.
The rest of Council agreed and Hall and Richardson were unanimously approved as the representatives.
“I know Councillor Hall and Councillor Richardson will do us incredibly proud,” said Councillor Rebecca Balanko.
The task force will work on developing an agreement and action plan for consideration by the Alexander Chief and Council and Morinville Town Council.
“It represents a big step forward for us in terms of our relationship with Alexander First Nation,” said Mayor Barry Turner. “I am looking forward to the work of the task force and moving the conversation forward.
Earlier this month Council called on Administration to bring forward a report to initiate a comprehensive community consultation in collaboration with Alexander First Nation.
The consultation would be in support of and in alignment with calls to action in the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission report outlining the findings of an investigation into Canada’s former residential schools, which Indigenous children were compelled to attend and where many died.
Recently a national outcry followed the location of 215 bodies of children buried in unmarked graves on the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops. Now hundreds of unmarked graves have been discovered at a residential school site in Saskatchewan.
“It’s about time,” said Hall, after moving the motion to create the task force. “I know this was in motion before the discovery that has affected so many Canadians – every Canadian really – but it is timely and now it will be taken seriously and I couldn’t be happier with that.”