WESTLOCK — The Town of Westlock is applying for a Heritage Canada grant from the Commemorate Canada Program to host a National Day of Truth and Reconciliation and Cultural Awareness Event in 2024.
Town of Westlock councillors discussed the funding at the Jan. 22 regular council meeting, following a short presentation from planning and development manager Danielle Pougher.
“This application is for a granting program that is run out of the federal government and it’s for events for Truth and Reconciliation which are typically held throughout September,” said Pougher. “The town has held an event the past couple of years in partnership with Alexander First Nation and it has been very well received.”
Pougher noted the 375 people who attended last year’s event in Westlock and pointed out how the program enables the town to present an event of that size, with the additional funding.
“It’s just a great opportunity for some shared learning and experiences together,” she said. “This year we are requesting that we submit an application for $9,500 in funding, in accordance with what our estimated expenses of the event would be.”
In order to submit an application, they required a motion from council to allow Chief Administrative Officer Simone Wiley to sign on the town’s behalf, noted Pougher.
Councillors discussed the application and provided some comments about the annual event, including Coun. Abby Keyes who said this past year’s event had a “spectacular turnout” and noted the “ample resources from this grant” to put on another event, adding she fully supports the application.
Coun. Murtaza Jamaly noted the municipality’s obligation when it comes to Truth and Reconciliation.
“There are the ‘nice to haves’ and the ‘need to haves’ and a Truth and Reconciliation (event) is not a nice to have, it’s a need to have’,” said Jamaly. “We have an obligation as a municipality, especially with them, with Alexander First Nation at our doorstep, to be good neighbours, to respond with Truth and Reconciliation and … we need to continue to strengthen that event,” he added, noting the role of regional collaboration for the event as well and noted that it should not just be a Town of Westlock endeavour but include regional partners.
Coun. Laura Morie pointed out the success of Truth and Reconciliation events held every year.
“I think this is a fantastic opportunity to build on the successes that we’ve been having and I echo the comments about being good neighbours,” said Morie.
Mayor Jon Kramer finished the discussion, noting the importance of building of relationships and the positive feedback from previous events.
“ … every time we’ve done this (we) just keep investing, keep investing because it’s what we do,” said Kramer. “It’s good governance, it’s good leadership.”