ONE VOICE- Audrey Poitras shares a laugh with Nelson Mayer

Aboriginal communities strive for one voice

Another huge stepping-stone for Alberta’s aboriginal communities has been accomplished in Red Deer.

Last Saturday, the signing of an official protocol between the Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association (ANFCA) and the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) took place during the annual general meeting of ANFCA at the Red Deer Lodge.

Officials said the protocol marks the beginning of a close partnership between aboriginal organizations that will improve the quality of life for Aboriginal people living in urban settings.

Tanya Schur, program director for the Red Deer Native Friendship Society, said she was thrilled the protocol was signed in Red Deer.

She also said that the collaboration between aboriginal agencies is necessary to ensure improved delivery of services to aboriginal people.

Schur noted this is the first official agreement between two aboriginal organizations that are striving to work together on the same goals.

Audrey Poitras, president of the MNA, said there are many things they could do together that would only enhance the services.

Poitras and Merle White, ANFCA president, were both present at the meeting to sign the protocol along with Red Deer Mayor Morris Flewwelling.

“Leadership is all about building strong and inclusive communities, respecting and accepting each others differences while recognizing the strength that comes from working together,” said Poitras.

Both Poitras and White agreed that the signing of the protocol would serve as a model for future partnerships and improve the lives of Métis.

“In one sense things will go on as they are, but what will happen is that at a higher political level and a seniour management level we will work to enhance services and push governments to do what they need to do so that our people are getting what they deserve,” said Poitras.

With the signing of the protocol the ANFCA hopes the doors will finally open to create partnerships among Friendship Centres in other towns and cities across Alberta.

Similar attempts have been tried in the past to bring Aboriginal Nations together, according to White, but he added times have changed and the ways they accomplish initiatives are different.

“It is time that aboriginal people start to join their voices together to be heard because separated people aren’t listening,” said White. “With this agreement it is history, and we need to get together and start speaking the same language.”

Myrtle Beaulieu, president of Métis local #492 in Red Deer, said he was proud of the aboriginal community in Red Deer, adding it now has many opportunities to work together with other organizations.

The Métis local #492 will be opening on Wednesday and taking over the Métis links office in downtown Red Deer.

“I am excited to see what services we can provide and as Audrey Poitras said as our history and culture it defiantly is important to us as Métis people,” said Beaulieu.

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