The bond between the Town of Cochrane and the Stoney Nakoda Nation continues to grow through the Community Economic Development Initiative (CEDI).
March 15 was the first anniversary of the pipe ceremony that brought the four communities together, signifying the commitment of each community to a new era of government-to-government partnerships with one another.
A joint news release issued today states that over the past year, Bearspaw First Nation, Chiniki First Nation, Goodstoney First Nation, Stoney Tribal Administration, and Town of Cochrane have each lived up to that commitment and have continued to meet every month via a working group, made of elected officials and senior staff from each community and organization.
Town councillor Susan Flowers says they have exciting plans for the next couple of years that can't be disclosed at this point.
"It builds trust, and it's part of the reconciliation we that want to do. We're building relationships but want to take action and have something that changes the future."
"I feel it's groundbreaking," says Flowers. "We need to turn things around with our relationships, so it has been a really great opportunity."
Before the Bearspaw and Goodstoney elections in the fall of 2022, almost 30 elected leaders and senior staff from all four communities and STA met for a two-day workshop in September 2022 to learn about each community’s history, culture, governance, legislation, and jurisdiction.
“If we can come together, government-to-government, under the heading of CEDI, then we are here to participate,” said Chief Aaron Young of the Chiniki Nation, at that session.
Chief Darcy Dixon, of the Bearspaw Nation, was attributed to saying, "We continue to learn from one another; the road ahead of us is better than the road behind us. Laying a foundation here for all our communities gives us some hope.”
“The Goodstoney First Nation is thankful to participate in this great initiative," said Chief Clifford Poucette of Goodstoney First Nation. "The Nation is looking forward to sharing, listening, and participating.”
Mayor Jeff Genung said the town was excited to remark upon the journey to get to know each other in a deeper way
"The outcome we all share is for the betterment of the people that live in our communities,” he said.
Out of respect to the fall 2022 elections, the working group did not meet between October and January. Meetings resumed in January.
CEDI is a national program delivered jointly by the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (CANDO) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).
CEDI seeks to support First Nations and neighbouring municipalities to build respectful and equitable partnerships, and to develop capacity for long-term planning for joint community economic development and land use.
Funding for the collaboration continues until 2025.