Bigstone Chief slams town councillor

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Bigstone Cree Nation Chief Andy Alook has demanded a public apology from Slave Lake Town Councillor Shawn Gramlich.

What Gramlich did that provoked the Bigstone reaction was put something on social media that appeared to imply that somebody “from one of our neighbouring communities” was transporting people to an undesirable location in Slave Lake, for reasons he regarded as suspicious.

It wasn’t more specific than that, but the accompanying video did show a white van driving down an unnamed street.

That was apparently more than enough for Chief Alook, who accused Gramlich of “derogatory comments about First Nation Peoples of this territory.”

The Gramlich video has since been removed, and can’t be referred to for accuracy. But it certainly didn’t contain any direct reference to First Nations people, or name Bigstone or anyone else. However, there was a clear enough implication of something going on that in the councillor’s opinion shouldn’t be happening.

To Alook it added up to finger-pointing. He called Gramlich’s remarks “slanderous,” and – as noted – demanded an apology.

“Furthermore,” Alook’s statement continues, “we strongly recommend that cultural sensitivity training be provided to the leaders of Slave Lake to prevent such racial incidents in the future. We also call for the immediate resignation of Councillor Shawn Gramlich.

“This situation is disheartening and raises serious questions among Truth and Reconciliation efforts the Town of Slave Lake had endeavored to pursue when flags were raised with surrounding First Nations earlier this year. We stand firm in our commitment to ensuring respect and equality for all First Nations people in Slave Lake and beyond.”

There has been no official statement by the Town of Slave Lake, or anything by Gramlich since then, that we’ve heard.

Lesser Slave Lake MLA Scott Sinclair, on the other hand, was quick to come out in defence of Gramlich in a social media post.

“Regardless of how his post was perceived, I don’t believe death threats or personal attacks against him or his family are appropriate,” Sinclair said.

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One thought on “Bigstone Chief slams town councillor

  1. What death threats are they talking about? Clearly none were in Chief Alooks letter but this article implies that Alook made these threatening comments. In the writing of this article the author is biased and appears to stand on the side of the counselor. That is not something a good reporter should do.
    As for the counselor gies, he should put on his big biy pants and respond to clear up the allegations so everyone knows who he is talking about.

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