The Mayor has hailed a new era in partnership between the Town of Maple Creek, the RM of Maple Creek, and the Nekaneet.
Michelle McKenzie spoke at the start of a Cross Cultural Awareness Training day at the Armouries on Monday, September 13.
It was part of an Inter-Community Action Plan for Economic Development.
She said the plan was to improve economic, social, cultural, and environmental wellbeing in the area through close ties between the Town, RM and Nekaneet – a partnership “that is as unique as we are as a community”.
“I am honoured and excited to be here today to start a new era for our community in building on our government- to-government relationships and paving the way for the future of our community.”
The training session was attended by leading figures in the community. Joining McKenzie were Doug Steele, MLA for Cypress Hills; Elden Jamieson, reeve of the RM; Shawn Kramer, deputy reeve; Wade Wasilow, RM Council member; Al Fournier and Betty Abbott, Town councillors; Gary Schlageter, the Town’s Chief Administrative Officer; Sean Checkley, Mayor of Fox Valley; and Steve Michaluk, superintendent of schools with Chinook School Division.
Nekaneet members present included Wes Daniel, Larry Oakes, and Irene Oakes (son and daughter of the late Gordon Oakes) while Tony Cappo represented the Muscowpetung Saulteaux Nation.
Also there were cultural training organizers Gillian Moch, the Town’s economic development officer, Christine Hoffman, RM administrator, and Cherish Francis, Nekaneet band member.
Elder Jean Oakes, wife of the late Gordon Oakes, said an opening prayer. She also blessed the food during lunch break, when people helped themselves to buffalo stew and elk’s stew.
In her opening remarks, McKenzie acknowledged that the event was taking place on Treaty 4 territory, traditional lands of Nekaneet, Carry the Kettle and the Little Pine First Nations and the homeland of the Metis.
She said an Inter-Community Action Plan for Economic Development working group will look at barriers and opportunities for entrepreneurs to find ways to put their ideas into action to create successful businesses and help drive economic growth in the community.
McKenzie said the partnership involving the Town, RM, and Nekaneet was like no other and another example of the community leading the way int he Southwest.
“I hope everyone has a great day,” she said. “I would like to thank Cherish, Christine and Gillian for all your hard work on getting this working group up and moving forward, and for organizing today’s cultural training. And I also would like to thank each one of you, as we would not be gathered here if we didn’t want our community to be the best place to live, work and do business.”
Doug Steele said he valued the type of education being offered through the cultural training day.
It was important to understand what each part of the community represented.
He added that Maple Creek was unique in the Southwest through its history with the Nekaneet First Nation.
Elden Jamieson also touched on Maple Creek’s long relationship with the Nekaneet.
“I am proud to be part of the community,” he said, adding: “We have to support each other. We can’t change the past, but we can learn from the past.”
Wes Daniel said Maple Creek had a history of partnerships in the community.
“We always try to do things with each other and include each other and we went to better that.”