City Council unanimously voted to approve and sign a Memoranda of Respect, Understanding and Partnership (MOU) with Kainai/Blood Tribe on Tuesday.
The MOU focuses on four areas of shared interests;
- Health and Wellness (including Housing, Education, Justice, Racism and Discrimination);
- Economic Development and Employment;
- Community Planning (including Land Use Planning, the Environment, Cultural Resources Management and Emergency Response); and
“We are pleased to see the hard work of both of our Councils and administrations come to fruition today,” says Mayor, Chris Spearman. “While this agreement is a positive step forward for both communities, it also represents and acknowledges the racism and social difficulties many in the Indigenous community have experienced in our city. The agreement gives us the opportunity to better understand and reflect the needs of Blackfoot and other Indigenous peoples in the City’s plans, policies, programs and services.”
The MOU is guided by the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Calls to Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The MOU creates a formalized structure to strengthen the ability of the Councils and Administrations to work more closely together for the benefit of both communities.
“On behalf of the leadership/Council of the Kainaiwa/Blood Tribe, I want to express our sincerity in working with the Mayor and Council of Lethbridge on this Memorandum of Understanding,” said Chief Roy Fox ‘Makiinima’. “Even though there have been differences between ourselves and the City of Lethbridge, we entered this memorandum with the hope that it will reduce the racism that has been evident from southern Alberta towards the people of the Kainaiwa/Blood Tribe and other Indigenous groups in the south.”
Makiinima adds, “This is an opportunity for us to share our perspectives with the City of Lethbridge and southern Alberta; with the hope and understanding that it will lead to a better relationship.”
The purpose of the MOU is to establish stronger communications, planning and opportunities for joint advocacy between the City of Lethbridge and Kainai/Blood Tribe to advance issues of common interest and resolve issues of common concern. This work is intended to improve the social and economic wellbeing of both communities.
“Historically, many of us have faced racism in different ways in southern Alberta, and it is now time again for us to work collaboratively towards a more positive relationship,” states Makiinima. “The Mayor and his Council are to be commended for the work they have done in bringing our communities together, and so we will do our part in ensuring that we have a more understanding and caring attitude amongst ourselves.”
“However, we also need to realize that our respective political leaders cannot enact laws and policies in changing people’s attitudes, but we can encourage more empathy and appreciation from all of the people of southern Alberta and Lethbridge,” continues Makiinima. “So that it will reflect the notion that we are all relatives.”
“We all deserve more understanding and respect of each other,” Makiinima concludes, “we look forward in developing more substance to this Memorandum of Understanding - again we thank the Mayor and his Council in embracing our respective challenges.”
The implementation of the MOU will be carried out through joint working committees with representation from the City and Kainai/Blood Tribe Administrations. Working committees will report bi-annually to joint meetings of the Councils.
“Being located in Blackfoot Confederacy territory, our communities are connected through a shared past, present and future,” says Spearman. “We share educational, social, cultural and other services that residents, members and visitors rely on each day. This MOU helps to strengthen and solidify our partnership with Kainai in a way that benefits both communities.”
“I’d like to thank Chief Roy Fox and the Kainai Council for their continued partnership with our city and their commitment to improve our communities while working together,” says Spearman.
A public signing and celebration of the MOU will take place at a later date when public health restrictions allow gatherings and events.
For general inquiries contact:
Kainai/Blood Tribe – Pamb@bloodtribe.org
City of Lethbridge - email@example.com