BARRHEAD - A local group planning to host a cultural event for Indigenous Day will receive a welcomed boost in its efforts.
County of Barrhead councillors approved the Barrhead Indigenous Peoples Day Committee application under the community grant policy for $1,000 during their May 16 meeting.
The recently formed committee plans to use the funds to offset the cost of staging a National Indigenous Peoples Day Walk for Reconciliation and Gathering.
Under the policy, which was approved in February 2021, eligible not-for-profit groups can apply for a maximum of $2,500, depending on the availability of funds. The funding for the program is capped at $15,000 and comes from the recreation organization reserve.
County manager Debbie Oyarzun noted that the committee has 11 members representing several community organizations, including Alberta Health Services, Blue Heron Support Services Association, Barrhead Pregnancy Care Centre, the Ripple Connection Support Centre and members from the Indigenous community.
Eligibility requirements are straightforward in that registered not-for-profit societies, volunteer groups, or charitable organizations must provide a service readily available to county residents and demonstrate value or a benefit to the community. Applicants can also apply for a grant for a project or an event. The policy also requires applicants to be financially viable, provide half at least half of the budget, and t to match the county's contribution.
Oyarzun noted the application checks all the boxes.
"It is a volunteer group, and it is an event that demonstrates a benefit to the community and is accessible to the public," she said.
Oyarzun added the organization also meets the financial requirements of the policy in that it has other sources of funding and will be providing 80 per cent of the estimated $5,350 needed to stage the event.
With the approval request, the community grant policy grant pool sits at $7,750, with $6,250 being dispersed thus far in 2023.
The committee was formed after Indigenous members of the community had approached Barrhead and District Family Community Support Services (FCSS) volunteer development coordinator Trisha Enman for assistance in organizing a "walk for reconciliation" to commemorate National Indigenous Peoples Day from the town municipal office, down Main Street to Gazebo Park.
A small group had taken part in a similar event last year but had difficulty bringing awareness, so they approached Enman and FCSS to see if they could not get better traction.
In addition to the Walk for Reconciliation, the committee is planning a Gathering event at Cecile Martin Park. The walk is scheduled for noon, while the festivities at Cecile Martin Park will take place from 1 p.m. to about 7 p.m. and will include stage performances such as traditional First Nations drummers and dancers, an interactive tee pee, information booths and an artisan and vendor market.
To help raise awareness of the event and Indigenous issues, the committee also plans to paint a crosswalk on Main Street at the 50th Avenue intersection with Indigenous symbols.
The committee had also asked Town of Barrhead counicllors at their May 9 meeting for permission to paint a Main Street crosswalk and also temporarily close the street to facilitate the project.
Council tabled the decision citing the need for additional information, most notably, information on the symbols that would be painted on the crosswalk to ensure they were inclusive of the Indigenous peoples in the region, referring specifically to Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation. Mayor Dave McKenzie also stated administration staff had to iron out some logistical problems regarding the closure of Main Street before granting approval.
The committee estimates that about 800 people, including several hundred students and staff from Barrhead Elementary School and Fort Assiniboine School, will participate in the walk and the other Indigenous Peoples Day events.
Council is expected to revisit the request at their May 23 meeting.