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Indigenous group asks to use Agrena for Truth and Reconciliation

Town of Barrhead councillors delay decision on whether to grant request to use Agrena rent-free
The Kicking Horse Singers from the Alexander First Nation were one of the first performers to go on stage at Barrhead's National Indigenous Peoples Day festivities at the Agrena in 2023.

BARRHEAD - The Barrhead and District Indigenous Committee will have to wait a little longer to learn whether their request to use the Agrena for the upcoming National Indigenous Peoples Day and Truth and Reconciliation Day has been granted.

Town of Barrhead councillors decided to table the request from the committee, made through Barrhead and District Family Community Support Services (FCSS) community development volunteer coordinator Darin Flemmer, via a letter until they get more details about the request.

He added that last year, for National Indigenous Peoples Day, the municipality donated the use of the Agrena, and the committee hopes that the council will once again consider donating the facility.

The event had been scheduled for Cecile Martin Park, but the committee asked the parks and recreation department if they could use the facility as the weather forecast was unfavourable.

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.

National Indigenous Peoples Day, June 21, is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, miscellaneous cultures, and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.

Canadian Governor General Roméo LeBlanc proclaimed the day (first named National Aboriginal Day) in 1996 after years of consultations and statements of support by various Indigenous groups.

Truth and Reconciliation Day The day is held annually on Sept. 30 to honour the survivors, their families and communities of the residential school system.

Coun. Rod Klumph suggested that instead of granting the facility to the committee at no charge, that council, if agreeable (as per council's unofficial policy in recent years), make a financial donation in the exact amount for the Agrena rental on the condition that the funds would be used to rent the facility.

Mayor Dave McKenzie interjected that he did not believe council officially approved the committee's request.

"[The request to use the Agrena] came at the last minute, and it wasn't being used for anything else, so we just allowed them to use it," he said.

Coun. Anthony Oswald, one of the council's representatives on the FCSS board, said he believed the committee would also ask for a monetary sum in addition to the rent-free use of the Agrena.

Klumph asked Oswald if he knew the committee would request a monetary donation.

"We don't make motions on maybe," he said.

Oswald could not answer the question, replying, "Nothing had been written in stone."

Klumph then moved to table the request, saying the council should ask the committee if they would make a subsequent monetary request. If they were, it would make more sense for them to be made simultaneously.


Barry Kerton

About the Author: Barry Kerton

Barry Kerton is the managing editor of the Barrhead Leader, joining the paper in 2014. He covers news, municipal politics and sports.
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