Coun. Michael Diachuk. File Photo
The Heart of Treaty 6 (formally known as Reconciliation Fort Pitt) is a group of individuals, community-based organizations, governments and businesses from Onion Lake Cree Nation, Lloydminster, Frog Lake First Nation and Poundmaker Cree Nation.
They have been discussing the strengths of the group and how to take action on reconciliation, and what it can look like in north west Saskatchewan.
The Heart of Treaty 6 declaration was brought forward to the Governance and Priorities Committee meeting on Monday, for city council members to discuss on whether or not to sign it.
“As the municipality that is very close to Onion Lake, and relationships with them and businesses in our community and future businesses development for Little Pine and Poundmaker, and other Frist Nations in the area, it’s important that we reach out and work with them as best we can, and I think this is an excellent opportunity to start a new conversation,” said Mayor Gerald Aalbers.
The group has identified two main priorities, education and awareness of reconciliation, as well as healing the effects of colonization.
“Certainly, there is a lot of history and we can’t undo history, but certainly we can try to improve on the history going forward,” said Aalbers.
Coun. Michael Diachuk was one that is in favor of signing the declaration.
“There are benefits for all of us,” he said, adding numbers presented by Saskatchewan suggest by 2020 50 per cent of students in schools are going to be Aboriginal or Metis.
“The math really says we really should get on this so we have built an environment where it’s okay, its welcoming and we understand and accept one another, and develop a commitment to work with each other because if we don’t have that and we have half of our population on one side and the other half on another, we have other issues,” said Diachuk.
If council ends up adopting the declaration they will commit to an official signing, engagement and education on reconciliation in the workplace, have a representative attend a monthly meeting, attend to events hosted by the Heart of Treaty 6 and commit to using the strengths of the organization to help actualize reconciliation.
“This model here, it’s one that requires patience, it’s one that takes time to work through, and it’s one of just spending time talking to gain and develop an understanding,” said Diachuk.
Diachuk said there is a role to be played, and if the city signs on to the declaration it will take more than just a signature.
“It’s not going to happen because you had the meeting, you passed the motion, you signed the document. One of the words for me is important is the word commitment. This is something you need to commit to. There is going to be ups and downs, there’s going to be challenges because it’s taken how many hundreds of years to get here. You aren’t going to fix it in one month, one year,” said Diachuk.
It was recommended that the Heart of Treaty 6 declaration go to council for a decision.