Sod Turning Ceremony – opening remarks and interviews
Opening remarks and interviews from the Sod turning ceremony for the new waste water facility that was held on Friday May 18, 2018. The old lagoons on one mile will be drained and a pipeline will be built to the Battle River for discharge of treated waste water. Temporary employment will be available for nation members so watch for those postings in the future. Federal Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott was present.
Cecil Crier performed a pipe ceremony to start the project off before the sod turning. The MC was Bryan Lightning. Opening remarks by Chief Vernon.
Chief Vernon Saddleback with the opening remarks: Tansi Notaimtik. This is the second speech for me today. There’s a lot happening in Maskwacis. I want to thank all of you for attending today. I want to thank Chief Makinaw and Chief Standing On The Road for coming out along with Minister Philpott. I said a declaration earlier today to recognize this event. I really do appreciate the outstanding work that’s been done with our current board members who are sitting over there but also our past members. These events don’t happen overnight. These moments happen over several, several years and hard work by previous leadership, administration and lots of people in the background. People like Clayton Bruno, I think Glenda Swampy was on our housing board last year. They did some outstanding work to get us here today. Waste water transfer: I was talking to Jim Sissons earlier and he’s one of the people who works in the background for Indian Affairs and he has a great relationship with the four Chiefs from Maskwacis. We were just talking about this whole process of waste water and this is huge. This is part of that journey, Keyano, all of us has to take in order to make sure we have clean, sustainable water for everybody in our community. People may joke and laugh about waste water but you know, the waster you put into the ground is the waste your going to drink. If we don’t have a proper waste water system we’re not going to have access to clean, sustainable water for our people. The commitment by INAC, by Indian Affairs, by the Government of Canada to come help us and giving us, you can’t even imagine what 36 million dollars means! It’s a big financial commitment by the government to ensure that we have a proper waste water system for our people here in Samson Cree Nation. I want to thank the Government of Canada, Indian Affairs, all of the people who did the work in the background who got us to this point. To our existing board members over here: we have Vincent Saddleback who is the Chairman, Terry Buffalo, Katherine Swampy, we have our nation members here. Also, Larron Northwest who is my acting Chief and who has a lot of experience. So there’s a lot of people who got us to this point and I want to thank each and every one of them from the bottom of my heart. With that I want to thank all of you for attending. I want to thank Cecil Crier for raising the pipe. We always have to start off the day with prayer. Prayer is everything to us as a people. Thanks to Bruce Hinkley who is here. I want to thank the NDP of Alberta. I want to make one last point. These moments don’t happen unless the right people show up at the right time for the right moments. With the Liberal government in power, with the NDP being in power in Alberta, the right political parties are in place, the right administrative people show up and then these moments happen. Ekosi!
Federal Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott.
Jane Philpott: Good afternoon everyone. It is wonderful to be here in Samson Cree in Treaty 6 Territory. It’s an honour to be here. Thanks to Bryan for the introduction……So I was saying across the road today that I was really excited to be coming to Nipisihkopahk. How was that? Am I getting better? [Applause] Which means ‘willow meadows.’ There are red willows just over there. So we are here in willow meadows. I’m really pleased to join you here today for the sod turning ceremony. The Government of Canada is delighted to be able to make a significant contribution to this. In fact the contribution of thirty two and half million dollars marks the largest federally funded infrastructure project in Samson Cree Nation. So it’s a big day today. A good day to support construction, project management and administration and I just speaking to some of the project managers here and I understand that they’ll get underway very shortly and it will take just over two years and it will be completed by 2020. This provides essential services to this community in terms of providing a clean environment. We just had the celebration around education and I always think about what’s it going to take for the people to be healthy. People think about things like education, health services takes a part to be healthy but it takes much more than that. Sometimes waste water gets taken for granted but as the Chief said, this is something that absolutely can never be taken for granted and infrastructure is one of the top priorities for the areas in our department. It’s a privilege to work with communities like Samson Cree-to be able to make sure we got the investments and infrastructure because people will not be well and healthy unless they live in communities that have the right roads, the right houses and to have water systems. This is part of the work that I think as part of a country that we need to do in many ways that speaks to the work of reconciliation. I know Grand Chief Willie Littlechild is a huge champion of making sure that we recognize, for example, the United Nation Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, we know here in Treaty 6 Territory that we have great work to do in terms of making sure we recognize, affirm and implement Treaty Rights. The kind of partnership we are recognizing today is really critical because it is recognition of rights. It is about supporting the self determination of communities as you continue to be leaders and we as the federal government come along side as a partner with the work that you are doing. So the kind of work that is happening today that will allow jobs for young people, jobs that will bring economic activity, bring hope, bring people to heal from the trauma of the past so they can see that the future can and will be different. So I want to congratulate all of you for making sure that you are taking control, absolutely taking control over your living conditions, your surroundings, discovering what needs to be done, having strong leaders in place and that they’re supported by the community. As you do this in so many areas whether it be in education, health or infrastructure or improvements in child welfare and making sure that your children are raised in your culture and in your communities, all of this builds the hope that’s necessary for a strong future. I want to say once again how inspired I am by the leadership in Maskwacis. I’m particularly thrilled today to make sure that the right investments are taking place to make sure that this community will be strong and healthy for the future and for the sake of all the children. Thank you very much, Hai Hai.
Councilor Vincent Saddleback:
Vincent Saddleback: Hello, I’m Vinny Saddleback, Councilor, CCP Chairman. [Talks Cree].
I just want to give Creator thanks and for you all coming here. There’s so many things happening and so many things going through my head right now. I’m just thinking at the moment that when the Elders reminded us not to take anything for granted, to not take life for granted, also Mother Earth, our water and waste water. Not to take any of these for granted and to respect them. We we’re told that by the Elders when we start a project or any type of ceremony to lift the pipe first. That’s what we had did. To
set an example for our children. I’m also just recalling to that the Elders had shared with us that it’s not about us in the moment and in a way it is. What we were told was to think about the future. To think about the community, to think about the unborn babies in the future. This project will definitely help build a healthy environment for our community and our children in the future. This is a good way for us to set an example. I just want
to give thanks on so many levels. We were told to work together and like the leader said here, we’re all here on different levels. I would like to thank my fellow Councilors, my CCP board, the Chiefs, the dignitaries for coming here, the Elders for lifting the pipe for us but most importantly I would like to thank the people. It was the people who brought this to our attention. It’s the people who come to us, and it’s the people who gave us the feedback. This is what this is for. I want to thank the people for making us aware and bringing this to our attention. I want to thank the past leaders, the past board members who had worked on this. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s the biggest project in First Nations history.