Historic agreement to open communication between City Hall and aboriginals

A historic agreement is being drafted to open the lines of communication and promote collaboration between the City of Red Deer and its aboriginal population.

A historic agreement is being drafted to open the lines of communication and promote collaboration between the City of Red Deer and its aboriginal population.

On Jan. 25, members of the city’s aboriginal community made a presentation to city council to create an ongoing consultation process.

City administration is now working on the draft with aboriginal community members.

“This is historic,” said community facilitator Tanya Schur, who is with Common Ground project of Red Deer that is working on the agreement.

“There has never been an agreement between the city and the urban aboriginal community. There’s been services provided, and leadership given to and initiatives done for. But this is done with and led by the aboriginal community.”

But it is also at a very preliminary stage of development, she said.

Mayor Morris Flewwelling said the city and aboriginal organizations have partnered on projects in the past and the agreement, which must be approved by city council, will continue the collaboration.

“The aboriginal community is growing rapidly so I think it’s really opportune that we develop some sort of a framework. Up till now it’s been very ad hoc,” Flewwelling said.

The idea to develop an agreement grew out of the pilot project Common Ground: Aboriginal Relationship Agreement Framework running in Red Deer, Rocky Mountain House, High Prairie and Slave Lake.

Schur said other Alberta communities have agreements in place but Red Deer’s accord will be unique to what this city and its people need.

City council would like to see a draft soon. It could be ready in about four weeks but there’s a lot of work to get done, she said.

Common Ground was developed in partnership with Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association and Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com