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Slave Lake Friendship Accord

May 14, 2014

On May 10, 2014 the Sawridge First Nation hosted the Honoring the Fire Round Dance at the Multi-Rec Centre in Slave Lake, which brought together more than 150 people to participate in the traditional Cree Round Dance.

The First Nations people of Canada have used the Round Dance for hundreds of years to celebrate numerous occasions such as marriages, births, to give thanks for good hunting seasons, to welcome newcomers, celebrate guests, to celebrate the life of one who has passed on and for many more occasions. The ceremony begins with the prayers of an elder, the smoking of the pipe and the blessing of the food – a large feast brings everyone together, with duck stew, moose steak, potatoes, carrots, stewed blueberries and raspberries and fried bannock served. Following the feast the celebration really begins – talented drummers erupt into song inviting all to dance in friendship and kinship well into the night.

A portion of the Round Dance was set aside to sign the Slave Lake Friendship Accord, an agreement between the Sawridge First Nation, Town of Slave Lake, and Municipal District of Lesser Slave River to act in friendship and co-operation when collaborating on regional opportunities and challenges. The Friendship Accord was formed through the participation of the three communities through the Community Economic Development Initiative led by Cando and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. In January 2014, members of the three councils came together to gain an understanding of the culture and governance structures of each respective council, as well as discuss specific activities that would enhance the already-established joint economic development committee. The Friendship Accord was drafted to continue the dialogue between the councils and ensure representatives meet quarterly with a consensus model for decision making.

Chief Twinn, Mayor Warman and Reeve Kerik were in attendance to sign the Friendship Accord and to participate in the pipe ceremony, feast and Round Dance ceremony. Each of the Chief elected officials spoke thanks and kind words for the friendship that has developed between the Councils over the past three years – they emphasized the willingness to collaborate on large projects with openness and respect.

“Not only have we worked together well as colleagues, but we have also become wonderful friends in the process,” said Reeve Kerik at the ceremony.

The Accord has been regarded as more than a document, as an example that showcases how the Councils are able to work together and obtain tremendous success. Five Friendship Accords were signed at the Round Dance: one being hung in each of the three Council administration offices, one at the Multi-Rec Centre and one to be put in the Legacy Centre once built.



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