Letters to the Editor – from Dwayne Laboucan

Town of Slave Lake makes commitments to remedy comments from town council

To the Editor:

Driftpile Cree Nation, Treaty 8 Territory (November 24, 2020) – The Town of Slave Lake has made attempts to address the racially inappropriate comments made by Slave Lake Councillor Joy McGergor after Driftpile Cree Nation announced a boycott.

“We appreciated the initiative Mayor Warman took to come and meet with us in person. We see a genuine desire from the Mayor Warman, and in Councillor McGregor’s written apology, to shift perspectives, to learn, un-learn and understand,” said Chief Dwayne Laboucan. “We believe there will be significant mutual advantages to be gained from working together to tackle difficult issues for which we share responsibility.

We can come together to share the burden of solving some of these challenges.”

In light of initial steps taken by the Town of Slave Lake to reconcile, Driftpile Cree Nation (DCN) Chief and Council lifted the boycott on the Town of Slave Lake. This was done in good faith, and contingent on the fulfilment of the following commitments during DCN’s meeting with the Mayor:

  • an in-person apology from Councillor Joy McGregor;
  • Slave Lake Town Council will undertake Cross Cultural Training within a prescribed time period;
  • DCN and Slave Lake Town Council will each donate $5000 to the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre;
  • Slave Lake will make efforts to create meaningful dialogue and partnerships with DCN and other neighbouring First Nations to address issues facing our communities; and reconsider the rezoning application for a homeless shelter and ensure something is in place for those living rough in the town.

    While these were not discussed in the meeting, DCN has identified further steps the town could take to demonstrate a commitment to true reconciliation. They include:
  • install Cree language on main street signage within the Town of Slave Lake;
  • name a street in the Town of Slave Lake in honour of Chief Kinosayo, original signatory of the Treaty 8 Agreement; and provide mental health supports for houseless people in and around Slave Lake.

    Finally, regarding the Friendship Centre’s rezoning application, DCN understands that constituents may voice opposition. However, DCN expects more than lip service, and take all reasonable steps to work with those who oppose it and provide your unwavering support and leadership to see this project through.

    DCN believes all of the conditions set out are consistent with meaningful reconciliation and DCN Council, administration and members look forward to seeing the Town of Slave Lake meet them all.

Chief Dwayne Laboucan and council
Driftpile Cree Nation

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