The City of Grande Prairie is beginning to look for an Indigenous Liaison in hopes of strengthening its relationship with the local community.
Community Development Supervisor Tammy Wentzell says she is encouraged with the direction the city is going in to better understand the history of Indigenous people and residential schools.
“We feel we have made some progress over the last couple years around the relevant [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] Calls to Action. One of the examples is Orange Shirt Day, which we’ve been participating in since 2016. We’ve also worked with the Grande Prairie Aboriginal Circle of Services to create these protocols for city staff to perform smudging at city facilities.”
The city is working with the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre to have staff trained on the protocols for traditional tobacco offerings. Wentzell says another key piece of honouring those calls to action is always mentioning the Treaty land the city is located on.
“At the beginning of every meeting, city council uses the land acknowledgement, which was created by the Grande Prairie Aboriginal Circle of Services.”
In recent years, a blanket exercise has taken place in the city, which allows people to learn about Canadian history, and not just from an Indigenous perspective. While Wentzell acknowledges that while she feels the city is doing well in a number of aspects with regards to Truth and Reconciliation, there is always room for improvement.
“Our focus is on honouring our Indigenous communities from other cultures and the diversity of Grande Prairie and our region ensure the development of initiatives to promote inclusivity and pride in our community. I think if we maintain that focus moving forward and continue to look at the things we can improve upon, that would be best for our city.”