The Mayor has sought to heal deep divisions in the community.
Michelle McKenzie called for people to respect the opinions of others.
“Maple Creek is not a community where you tear each other apart for how you think,” she said. “Maple Creek has always been a community that has come together to support in times of need or anything else.”
McKenzie said the age of COVID-19 should be no different.
While some may think that the virus is just a common cold, she said, others have lost family members and loved ones to it.
“So whatever anybody thinks or does or feels on this, we need to respect that is their own opinion.”
McKenzie’s plea for unity came at the end of Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, which was streamed live to Facebook via Zoom; this was done as part of the Town’s Pandemic Plan in response to the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the Southwest.
Her comments follow a period of acrimony culminating in Saturday’s visit to Maple Creek by Ontario activist Chris Sky, also known as Chris Saccoccia. Sky and his “freedom convoy” have been on a cross-country tour, protesting against lockdowns, mandatory masks and mandatory vaccines.
Between 60 and 80 people – a mixture of local residents and members of the convoy – attended Sky’s rally at Lions Park.
Nobody wore masks apart from a counter-protester carrying a placard with the message: “Wear masks, stay safe.”
Social media has become the main battleground for those with different opinions.
The issue has been fuelled by a recent surge in COVID-19 cases after a super-spreader Easter weekend party near Maple Creek.
McKenzie said the community had experienced a difficult time since the beginning of April.
She heaped praise on Councillors for the way they had handled the challenge, pointing out that four them were near the start of their first terms: Betty Abbott, Corrine Collura, Len Barkman and Al Fournier.
She also lauded re-elected Councillors Jill Roy and Cara Teichroeb for dealing with the backlash “like a rock”.
“I am very proud that you are supporting us all as a unit,” she said.
McKenzie said as elected officials, she and her Council needed to maintain a non-biased approach to issues, and to hear voices from all sides.
“I don’t want to preach. I’m just trying to figure out how to make sure are community is comment together as one as it always has.”
When she turned to Maple Creek as a whole, McKenzie said: “I don’t know how we can do this, but we need to mend our community. Our community is divided.
“One of the things I’m going to say is this … I’m going to stand by this 100 per cent: everybody is entitled to their own opinions and nobody should be judged for those things – at all.”
McKenzie said Maple Creek as “cowtown” had always been a place where people came to live and laugh. Not to sow discord.
“We are better than this,” she said. “So my final words are going to be: let’s respect each other, not matter what our difference of opinions are. So again, thank you.”
Earlier, Councillor Roy had expressed her sadness over divisions in the little town that she loved.
“There has been a lot of craziness going on in my little town of Maple Creek this last month. I applaud the businesses that are doing what they feel is right for them.”
Roy said she had not got on Council “to be a dictator” and did not feel it was her place to tell people how to think, or how to feel.
“It deeply saddens me how badly our town is divided at this point. I feel we should be working together.”