JUNE 2019

It takes courage to build a better community

On November 16, 1984, Chief Wallace Tawpisin from Muskeg Lake sent a letter to Mayor Cliff Wright of Saskatoon about acquiring a parcel of land in the Sutherland area to create an urban reserve. This was an unprecedented move in Canada—never before had a commercial reserve been created in an urban setting, let alone one that was almost 50 acres in size.

The band had faith that in Saskatoon was the potential to create a cooperative relationship that would benefit both them and the City. This isn’t to say it was a perfectly smooth path in getting there, but there was a commitment on both sides to come together and start building the community that we needed to become.

This was a bold vision for our city back then, and it remains a bold vision for our city today.

This aspiration was realized because of the determination and perseverance of the people working for the City and the band. But the opportunity wouldn’t have happened if Chief Tawpisin hadn’t seen potential in our community: potential for economic opportunity, potential for bridging divides that have for too long plagued our country, and potential for a shared future that could be stronger than our past.

We celebrated the 30th anniversary of this urban reserve last year, and Elder Harry Lafond—who was the Chief of Muskeg when the reserve was created in 1988—said something powerful during a pipe ceremony at the anniversary that has stuck with me ever since. He said that back during these negotiations, the two groups could have chosen to be fearful or apprehensive or unsure, but instead they chose to see strength in one another.

See strength in one another.

This is the opposite of racism, of discrimination, of divisiveness. Doing this takes courage, but when we are at our best, it is the courage that our community is known for. 

That same courage is needed now as our community continues down the path of reconciliation. As we seek the best for our community, we have to look inwards for answers, and for action. We have so much potential in all of us, in our city, to help lead the way in living in right relationship with one another.

If we work together, we can build a positive future for all residents. Today’s Rock Your Roots Walk is an incredible example of community building and coming together with a common cause of creating a better future for the generations yet to come. The theme for this year’s walk is ‘Re-Igniting the Fire,’ a reminder that we all have a role to play in this journey.

At the City of Saskatoon, we work hard to make life better for all people living in this city.

That means focusing on the services people expect from their city, like garbage collection and street sweeping, but it also means listening to the voices of those who are often left out, such as Indigenous members of our community. As Mayor, I will continue to work with and for those who are often left out of the opportunities that exist in our city.

Including everyone in the opportunities of our community makes our whole city stronger.

We make the best decisions when we bring together different perspectives and experiences to work through an issue. As Mayor, leadership on this issue means listening and respecting the views of others, and working hard to engage with people, community groups, and businesses across the city.

Today, on National Indigenous Peoples Day, let us commit to seeing strength in one another, to being courageous and building our community with collaboration and compassion. At the city level and throughout our country as a whole, when we are faced with choices, let’s choose hope so we can create the best possible future.

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