Lease and the Tsuu T’ina Nation – March 2012
Mayor John Welsh
What’s happening with the lease? In Nov 2010, this Council made the decision that any lease extension is a function of a strong relationship with the Tsuu T’ina Nation. In the last 17 months much of our efforts have been focused on developing plans and programs that are in alignment with Tsuu T’ina objectives and values.
Specifically we’ve been focusing on areas that expand First Nation employment and education opportunities. Following are a few examples of some of these efforts.
The Tsuu T’ina Police- Council has been working with the Tsuu T’ina Nation’s Police Commission to have the Tsuu T’ina Nation take over all policing, including bylaw enforcement. We have numerous issues within Redwood that we believe can be better served by Tsuu T’ina Police.
Employment Opportunities- Council is working with Tsuu T’ina Nation on a number of projects that can provide employment with our Infrastructure and Administration teams.
Leadership Scholarships- Council has approved $5,000 in scholarships for Tsuu T’ina members. Redwood’s Council is working directly with the Tsuu T’ina education department and Councillors in the development and implementation of these scholarships.
Mentorship Program- Although in its infancy, this mentorship program would assist Tsuu T’ina members looking for educational, employment or apprenticing opportunities. This program will be run by Town Council, Redwood residents, Tsuu T’ina Education Department and the Tsuu T’ina Adult Learning Centre. If you have opportunities at your workplace, Townsite would be grateful your assistance.
Program Sponsorship- Council has previously approved sponsorship of Tsuu T’ina events like the Pow-Wow and Rodeo, and we will continue these sponsorships in the future.
What does all of this mean? It’s a fair question and one that can’t be answered tangibly as this isn’t a tangible process. Overall, we are working diligently toward developing a relationship that provides opportunities for all. We believe that these opportunities, and a strong relationship, will ensure long-term success for Redwood Meadows.
I recognize this isn’t the answer many are looking for, but it’s also virtually impossible to explain the complexity of this issue in this format. If you want a more detailed understanding of this issue, Council strongly recommends that you attend our AGM on May 30, 2012.
In summary, Redwood Meadows is in a strong fiscalposition with many promising programs and developments to look forward to. We also don’t have the luxury of being judged by our competence, but by our ability to ensure our long-term survival. We recognize this position, and all of our decisions are focused on ensuring a bright and prosperous future.
Lease Extension Update – January 2011
In many ways it would be nice if the responsibility of Council was to just run the townsite like any other community, but that’s not our reality. Our reality is that we live on leased land and although it sometimes creates anxiety it also binds us as a community. Redwood Meadows is a special place, and we all bought into a lifestyle for our own special reasons. Yes, it can be perceived as a risk to live here, but like everyday life, risk can present opportunity. One thing for sure is that we all love Redwood Meadows, and we don’t want to lose it. This is our home, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
So how do we do move forward? From my perspective the successful completion of a lease extension is dependent on three things: knowledge, a plan, and a healthy relationship. This may sound simplistic, but there is a lot more to it.
Knowledge in this case is comprised of an understanding of ourselves, the Tsuu Tina Nation and our context. At this point I think we have an understanding of ourselves, but we have a limited understanding of the Tsuu Tina Nation and our context. We do know the Tsuu Tina’s Nation’s motivation for a lease extension has changed as originally the funds from a lease extension were intended to help fund the building of the Casino. What we don’t know is what is in their best interest now.
We also know that the Ring Road vote caught many people by surprise, and the results may have left some scars and changed dynamics. One of the outcomes of the failed vote was a media and governmental assault on the Tsuu Tina Chief, Council and people. Personally I can’t imagine what it was like for them. From experience I would suggest that the Tsuu Tina members reacted like anyone would who felt they were under attack. We would turn inward and become defensive. It’s also likely that we wouldn’t be capable of being generous of spirit and open to new ideas. Would you open a lease discussion with us under these circumstances?
We need to develop an understanding of the Tsuu Tina Nation, and the context of our relationship with them and that understanding comes with time, exposure, trust and open communication. We are working on that.
A great Plan is a function of knowledge, communication and understanding. We are diligently working on these areas and a plan should develop naturally from these efforts.
We are also forming a separate lease negotiation committee that will be comprised of individuals with the right mixture of skills and experiences that can move us forward thoughtfully and respectfully. Look in this issue of the Chatter for details.
Any Relationship involves more than one group or person. In our case, our most important relationship is one that hasn’t been well developed or understood in the past by us as residents, as a Council, and as a townsite.
It is essential to recognize that a lease extension would need to be voted on by Tsuu Tina members. How would that happen successfully?
We need to be honest with ourselves; if the situation was reversed, and we had to vote on an initiative that was happening at the Nation, how would we make the decision? We have little access to Tsuu Tina culture, nor do we have many meaningful relationships with the Tsuu Tina people. Without knowledge and a mutually beneficial relationship, fear and a lack of understanding may dictate a “no”. That is our situation, and it needs to change.
Before we move forward we need to understand before being understood, and we need to develop a meaningful, consistent and sustainable relationship with the Tsuu Tina Nation, of whom we share the same jurisdiction of reserve land. Our approach as a community must take all this into consideration because it is worthy in and of itself.
To do this properly and for everyone’s benefit it will take time. We believe that we are on the right track, we just need that time.
This is a wonderful community and I am grateful that the Tsuu Tina Nation chose to build it, but few, if any, outside of Redwood realize what a special place this is.
Mayor John Welsh