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One Cochrane councillor to join committee behind proposed Indigenous centre

The town will appoint a councillor to the Rotary Club's Indigenous placemaking initiative steering committee in their next council meeting Jan. 24.

The town will appoint a councillor to the Rotary Club's Indigenous placemaking initiative steering committee in their next council meeting Jan. 24.

Council discussed making the appointment in a committee of the whole meeting Jan. 17, after an invitation letter was received from the Rotary Club of Cochrane.

The letter from local Rotary president Kevin Shier invited council to assign a member "to embark on a historic journey of reconciliation and partnership with [the Rotary] and Indigenous people in the region."

After two years of working on the initiative, the Rotary celebrated its formal launch Dec. 19 with a Christmas concert fundraiser in conjunction with Tom Jackson.

The funds raised are set to be used to build a local Indigenous-managed centre for Indigenous peoples, in collaboration with non-Indigenous allies.

"I think if we're looking at relationship building, having a representative on this committee will be important as we advance the commitment that council has made to Truth and Reconciliation and the principles and calls-to-action," said Jaylene Knight, town manager of legislative services in the committee of the whole meeting.

Knight said her understanding is the Rotary intends to extend the committee invitation to representatives of the three individual bands that make up Stoney Nakoda First Nation as well as to Stoney Tribal Administration.

"I think it's an opportunity to gain understanding, to gain insight and to work towards advancing what that relationship looks like from a community perspective as a whole," she said. "Not just simply the specific actions that the Town of Cochrane would take as a government administration."

A few councillors, along with Mayor Jeff Genung, expressed interest in appointing a member to serve on the committee.

"From my perspective, I think this is a good initiative and I'm interested to see where it goes and how it develops and what can come from it," said Genung. "I think it's really just a first step that should've happened years ago that we've really just missed, and it's the Rotary Club that's stepping forward and filling that void."

Coun. Marni Fedeyko said she is in support of council's commitment to the committee but mentioned a need to distinguish their part in it from other council-driven initiatives with similar goals, such as the possible creation of an equity and inclusion committee.

"I do believe equity and inclusion is a much broader picture than what the Rotary is bringing forward," she said. "I just don't want that to be confused because I have been asked by a few different people in the public as to when that committee might be getting struck up from a council side of things."

Both Coun. Tara McFadden and Coun. Susan Flowers, who was acting as deputy mayor in the meeting, expressed interested in pursuing the committee appointment and a council member is expected to be selected next week. 

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