The City of Fort Saskatchewan took further steps in recognising its commitment to truth and reconciliation.
On Thursday (Oct.14), members of the RCMP, the city and guests from the Indigenous community came together at the RCMP detachment in Fort Saskatchewan to hold a Treaty Land Acknowledgment Ceremony.
The ceremony started with a prayer from the honoured guest Kookum Doreen Wabasca, followed by words from mayor Gale Katchur and Inspector Mike McCauley.
"We must strive for truth and reconciliation, something that, as a city, we need to take seriously. The Treaties were signed, and they should be as strong as the mountains and last as long as the rivers flow. We must support all Indigenous communities by understanding the truth of Canada's colonial history and celebrating Indigenous voices, culture and traditions," said Katchur.
When it was McCauley's turn to speak, he noted that this year marked the 25th anniversary of the National Indigenous People Day in June as well as the new statutory holiday on Sept.30. He added that the RCMP wants to continue building their relationship with the Indigenous peoples and presented Wabasca and teaching assistant Carol Cardinal with a Treaty 6 plaque for Fort Saskatchewan detachment to symbolise their commitment and respect to the community.
The land acknowledgement plaque will be a permanent addition to the detachment's lobby.
"This land acknowledgement is a step in the right direction towards truth and reconciliation. I never would have that I'd be here today. Thank you so much for acknowledging the lands of our people. May we continue to heal and grow together," said Cardinal.
Wabasca was the last speaker, and she recounted her time at a residential school and the fear she and her siblings felt. She remembers her sister being beaten up so badly she had to go to the hospital and how Wabasca still won't wear black and white outfits since it reminds her of the nuns there.
"The thing is, we've got to learn to forgive each other. We're all equal in this mother Earth. The land we call ours," she said. "It's worth it to stand up and to be proud of who you are, to respect each other. I thank you RCMP and city police today, and the teachers, the kind we have for our children."
The ceremony ended with gifts for the guests and a smudging led by Wabasca.
The attendees of the Treaty Land Acknowledgment Ceremony. Photo courtesy of Gale Katchur.