November 27, 2020
Address from Town Council
The Slave Lake Town Council would like to take this opportunity to speak to both our residents and our neighbours. The last couple of weeks have been very polarizing for our community and those around us. Comments that were brought to light in one of our council meetings have brought about strong emotions, comments and opinions about our council, our community and its people.
Our council recognizes that Canada has a troubled past and has made mistakes. As Canadians and elected officials we believe we have a responsibility to make things better for our people and our community. Although we have much to learn about the failed decisions of people in the past, we are committed to working towards a stronger future for our people and our community. Our council will always learn from our mistakes and take ownership of them because that is the right thing to do and what the people we represent expect of us.
Our Region is one filled with beauty, diverse cultures, and amazing people. We truly believe our environment makes this a place full of opportunity, but the people are what make it a great place to live. Our last ten years of working with the Sawridge First Nation and the MD of Lesser Slave River have taught us many things. Through conversations we have developed a mutual trust and respect for one another. We recognize that although we are individual communities with our own goals, cultures and identity, we also have a lot in common. We understand that we can achieve more by working together than working on our own. We know the benefits of asking for help, seeking advice and the power that comes from communities uniting in common goals. We have learned the futility of keeping score. Most importantly we have a deeper understanding that when our neighbours are strong and doing well so are we. We know that any relationship requires understanding and good communication; and so our council has committed to engaging with our neighbours and getting some education and training to better understand their history and their culture. We are committed to working with communities who are wanting to get to know more about our own community, as we believe strongly that any relationship requires effort from both parties.
Our community has always been committed to its people. Over the past 10 years we have spent roughly $2.1 Million dollars on programming. Programs that help our youth, our seniors, and work with non for profit agencies. Slave Lake Native Friendship Center has been the lead and champion in supporting homelessness and people in desperate need. $32,603.00 of the funds listed above have flowed directly to the SLNFC in an effort to offset their costs and provide them the financial support they need to keep their organization operating. Our staff and council sit monthly with a variety of agencies and the SLNFC to discuss issues related to homelessness and offer our help and advice on how to help these people in need. Our most recent example of working with the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre is our staff working hard behind the scenes to apply for and secure over $300,000 in funding for the MAT program for the next 5 years.
Over the past couple of weeks we have met with Driftpile Cree Nation, KTC Tribal Council and the Chiefs of Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta. These Nations have been welcoming, open to discussion and building relationships with a foundation of trust and mutual respect. We understand that relationships start with conversations, information sharing, opinions, and feelings. We also know that any strong relationship requires more than just words and we are excited by Driftpile Cree Nation’s recent commitment of $5000 towards helping those in need in our community. Driftpile Cree Nation’s Chief has called on other First Nations to move beyond words and take action as well and match their commitment along with ours. Our council will spend those funds once a plan has been put in place that is agreed to all by all involved because we never spend taxpayer money without having a good plan in place.
Our council has always believed that Slave Lake’s success is attributed not only to our people, but from the support of our neighbors as well. We believe that by working with our neighbors there are opportunities to improve the social, environmental and economic portfolios of all our communities. Most of all there is opportunity to improve the quality of life for the people who live in this Region. We look forward to meaningful dialogue in the months to come with communities who believe strongly in building a stronger and more vibrant Region. Whether it be homelessness, combatting systemic racism, improving healthcare, fixing roads, growing economy, or protecting our environment we believe there is immense power in working together on these issues. We don’t do this to be politically correct, we do it because it makes sense and we are committed to building opportunities. We recognize that in building these relationships and working through history, emotion and assumptions, that strong relationships take time. We recognize that the leaders in our neighbouring communities are the best ones to make the decisions for their communities. We will share our knowledge, our culture, our experiences in the hopes it will help them, but at no point do we ever feel we are in a position to tell our neighbor’s what is best for their community or how to run theirs.
In closing we were elected to represent the people of Slave Lake. We will continue to represent them the best way we know how. By listening, getting all the information and advice and making the best decision possible for all the people we represent. We need to follow our established ways of governance, our policies and our procedures as we have done in the past. Not everyone will always agree with our decisions but this is how our council operates with integrity, hard work, and transparency, focused on growth and improving the quality of life for our people. We look forward to working with and learning more about people and communities who have a similar vision.
On behalf of Town of Slave Lake Council