The Minister of Indigenous Affairs met with community members to discuss work being done in the province.
It was a full day of discussions with community members as Minister of Indigenous Affairs Richard Feehan visted the Tri-Region.
The purpose of the trip was to visit surrounding communities and give member a chance to speak with the Minister to identify problems he may have not originally seen. Feehan also presented the community with projects he and the government are working towards as well.
Feehan spoke to a variety of projects beginning with the Aboriginal Parent Link Centre recently receiving approximately $393,000 from the provincial government which will go towards programs within the community. Feehan adds, " It's good to hear what they are doing and some of the particular things that are going on".
Feehan also discussed the new water system in Alexis and Paul Band which will connect them with water from Stony Plain. Feehan states, "it's kind of a national shame that we have all these people in this country that can't turn on the water and drink it, and now we do, we have two communities right by that are getting connected".
The curriculum review was a topic heavily discussed by Feehan and community members as he explains his office is working towards including more First Nations and Metis knowledge in the classroom. Feehan also adds, residential schools are not ancient history, and he believes it is important to share this history with students. Adding to the curriculum discussion Feehan notes, "we have another rich history; you have a very rich indigenous history and I'm not sure that is always payed attention to, but maybe it's time".
Feehan also spoke to the provincial and federal governmental divide especially when talking about the road conditions in Paul Band, as that issue is on the federal government has agreed to handle. Feehan adds, "I think we're one of the first provincial governments to just start to take a hammer to that horrible wall, but like any wall it's going to take a lot of pounding to bring it down".
Lastly, Feehan addressed how the opiod crisis has been affecting Indigenous communities, a problem he believes begins structurally. He adds drug and alcohol problems often stem from areas of poverty and even referenced how people viewed the Irish at the turn of the century due to their social status. Feehan states, "if you really want to fix a drug and alcohol problem you do have to provide services at that end where they're using the drugs and alcohol but you also have to go back to the structures that set that up and how do you change that, and that's what we're doing".
In closing, Minister Feehan voiced his belief in the importance of visiting the smaller communities and getting a first hand look, and he also commended MLA Erin Babcock for her work in the area.