Rocky Mountain House commits to reconciliation work, partnerships with nearby First Nations

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The Town of Rocky Mountain House is attempting to work toward reconciliation, with town councillors hoping the steps taken at a recent council meeting spur other levels of government to act on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action

The town’s council passed multiple resolutions on June 15 related to the calls to action, including requesting a full report from the provincial and federal governments disclosing which actions have been taken so far, and a timeline for fulfilling those that have not been addressed. 

“We realize that municipalities are only named basically in four of the calls to action, but we do know we can play a role in different ways,” said Mayor Tammy Burke.

“But we also believe that we can be a voice to lobby for higher levels of government for change, and action.”

In the meantime, the town’s council is moving forward on actions it can take at the municipal level, specifically on actions 40, 47, 57, 88 and 90.

This includes work on Indigenous-specific victims of crime programs, municipal staff training on Indigenous history, rights and law, as well as potentially hosting the North American Indigenous Games and asking local sports leaders what efforts are being made in anti-racism training. 

‘It’s long overdue’ 

The town in central Alberta has a higher population of Indigenous residents than most of Alberta.

More than 8 per cent of the population of Rocky Mountain House identify as Indigenous, compared to about 6.5 per cent of Albertans.

The town is continuing collaborative work with the nearby Sunchild and O’Chiese First Nations, including leadership-to-leadership meetings that began in 2020 but were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We’ve had prior mayors in town that we’ve dealt with, but Tammy is the one that has really turned her council to look at our nations now,” said O’Chiese Chief Douglas Beaverbones.

According to Beaverbones, the close proximity between the Sunchild First Nation and the Town of Rocky Mountain House means working together is imperative, as people travel between the communities daily. 

Beaverbones said he is looking forward to seeing the Treaty Six and Métis flags raised outside the Rocky Mountain House town office on National Indigenous Peoples Day. 

“It’s long overdue,” said Beaverbones, who has been working toward collaboration with the town for two years as chief. 

“We don’t live far from Rocky and we do business in Rocky daily. We just have to unite together.” 

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