Red Deer’s First Nations and Metis groups are in relationship-building talks with the Canada Winter Games Committee to ensure they become an integral part of Games planning, going forward.
“We wanted more involvement. There hasn’t been adequate involvement up until this point,” said Pamela Taylor, a member of the Red Deer Welcoming Inclusive Communities Network.
This is one example of a gap that exists between the 94 “calls to action,” recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Committee and actual community practice.
A series of public forums are being held by the WIC Network — starting with a half-day session on Friday , June 22 — to explore the commission’s recommendations and how they can continue to be implemented in the Red Deer area.
Everyone is invited to pre-register for the free lunch and discussion from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Red Deer’s Sheraton Hotel.
There have been many good first steps, said Taylor — such as recognition of First Nations territorial lands in speeches at special events. Red Deer’s school boards have done an “amazing” job of incorporating First Nations history into the curriculum, and Red Deer hospital now has an indigenous cultural room and elders to offer support to aboriginal patients, she added.
But there’s still a long way to go in implementing all 94 calls to action recommended by the Committee.
“It’s good to ask, as a city, what are we doing? What are the gaps that need to be filled?” said Taylor.
Andrea Lacoursiere, another WIC member on the organizational team for the forum, is hoping to get participation from the municipality, police, justice groups, businesses, non-profits and individuals.
The key-note speakers at the Friday session will be Amanda Scout, co-chair for Reconciliation Lethbridge, and Roy Pogorzelski, director of First Nations, Metis, Inuit Student Services at the University of Lethbridge.
While Lacoursiere believes reconciliation starts at a personal level, and means different things to different people, she noted the Lethbridge community has done a lot of work to move forward on the calls to action.
The municipality adopted a Reconciliation Implementation Plan. “They have even come up with their own flag that flies in front of city hall.”
These and other initiatives will hopefully give our community some ideas on how to move forward in Central Alberta, she added.
To register for the session, please visit eventbrite.ca’s truth and reconciliation community gathering site (or https://bit.ly/2JjOijh).