The agreement signed earlier this year between North Battleford, Battleford and five area First Nations has earned all of them a first place Saskatchewan Municipal Award.
First Place went to the Sacichawasihc Relationship Agreement, signed by City of North Battleford, Town of Battleford, Moosomin, Sweetgrass, Saulteaux, Little Pine First Nations, and Lucky Man Cree Nation.
According to a news release from the Saskatchewan Municipal Awards, its winning practice was developing “an agreement that gives municipal and Indigenous governments a way to work together in the spirit of reconciliation and collaboration through the building of government-to-government relationships.”
Winning projects were chosen by the Saskatchewan Municipal Awards Committee, who combed through 17 nominations submitted, covering 51 municipalities.
According to the news release, the “overwhelming sentiment of the selection committee was that submissions were of extremely high quality and the range of scoring across all submissions was narrow. There was also a noteworthy increase in collaborative initiatives submitted for consideration for the Saskatchewan Municipal Awards.”
Second Place was awarded for Emergency Medical Service Support (Town of Radville and RMs of Laurier, The Gap, Lake Alma, Souris Valley, Surprise Valley, and Lomond). Third place went to the ‘Beware the Grease Beast’ Drain Pollution Prevention Program (City of Lloydminster). The Regional Cooperation award was for Regional Asset Management and Group Learning (Villages of Broderick, Conquest, Elbow, Glenside, Kenaston, Loreburn, Strongfield and Beechy, Resort Village of Mistusinne, Towns of Central Butte, Dundurn, Hanley and Craik, and RMs of Loreburn and Fertile Valley).
Awards will be handed out to winning rural municipalities at the SARM Midterm Convention on Nov. 13 at Queensbury Convention Centre in Regina, and to winning urban municipalities at the annual SUMA Convention in February 2020 in Regina.
Mayor Bater and the area Chiefs met the media Thursday morning to discuss the award.
"The agreement is one of our highest priorities if not our highest priority," said Bater.
"After signing the agreement we knew that once we had our local partners together in the framework we wanted to get the attention of senior levels of government. Hopefully this award will achieve that."
"The work that we're doing here is an acknowledgement that what we've done up to now to address the issues that face all our communities is not working," said Little Pine chief Wayne Semaganis.
"I know that the issues that are happening are not isolated also. It's not just North Battleford, it's not just Little Pine, it's all over, it's a regional issue. So it's up to the leadership to help set a path, to find a path... we do have to work together, but we also need the provincial and federal governments onside. A lot of it boils down to funding, a lot of it boils down to legislation and policies that exist. They have to change. But they are not going to change on their own. We have to highlight the issues but we also have bring the solutions and this is what we are doing. We do have to work together."