(Edmonon Mayor Don Iveson (l) and Enoch Cree Nation Chief Billy Morin signed an MOU to creat an urban reserve on the outskirst of the city. Photo Brandi Moring/APTN)
APTN National News
The Chief of the Enoch Cree Nation said it’s time to picture the world’s biggest pow wow taking place on an urban reserve in Edmonton.
It would be a celebration of friendship, said Billy Morin, between Enoch and the city.
The two signed an historic, first of its kind agreement to work together on social and economic developments on Friday.
“I think Enoch Cree Nation is ready for this,” said Morin. “Our people have never seen anything like this before.”
Morin talked about dreaming big going forward, even building a public hospital on the reserve.
“A place where the 100,000 people that are Aboriginal in the capital region can come and heal through our ways but at the same time walk through those same health doors alongside City of Edmonton, Parkland County and St. Albert residents. That can happen with partnerships like this,” said Morin.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and council members participated in a sweat with Enoch leadership the day before the signing.
Iveson called the experience “magical” and a confirmation of building friendships and acting upon reconciliation.
Building relationships involves peacemaking and creating mutual prosperity opportunities, said Iveson.
The feelings between the two neighbours wasn’t always this hopeful. Iveson reflected upon his childhood growing up in Edmonton next to Enoch.
“Growing up there was an invisible line around Enoch,” said Iveson. “I think for many Edmontonians it was a place where they were not sure if they were welcome, not sure if they should come here.”
The Enoch Cree Nation is a First Nation with 3,000 members bordering the City of Edmonton.
Things have changed since the addition of tourist attractions such as the River Cree Resort and Casino in Enoch.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is a non-legally binding agreement that will allow discussions around creating partnerships in housing, tourism, culture, transit services and others to happen.
Enoch is already looking at areas to purchase land to do business on in Edmonton. They will have to pay city taxes and abide by city by-laws on lands located within the city limits but it will be independently owned and operated by the nation.
Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louis flew in from southern BC to attend the event and lend support to his younger mentoree, Morin.
Louis is the CEO of the Osoyoos Indian Band Development Corporation which employs individuals from 30 different First Nations in Canada.
The band controls about 32,000 acres of land in the vicinity of Osooyoos and has created partnerships with surrounding municipalities.
“This is a baby step…Enoch just like Osoyoos is breaking a trail for others to follow,” said Louis. “By way of engaging the business community. The original treaty relationship was a business relationship. I firmly believe that we have to get back to that.”
Morin said the MOU signing makes everyone better off.
“Today the City of Edmonton is stronger, today the people of Enoch are stronger because of this MOU.”
The First Nations Municipal Community Economic Development Initiative (CEDI) helped to lay the foundation for the MOU. C
EDI is a joint national initiative of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers. CEDI supports First Nations and adjacent municipalities to build bonds and to identify and plan for economic cooperation over the long term.