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UPDATE: Council to ask feds for inquiry into Moccasin Flats

Last Updated Mar 12, 2019 at 8:38 pm MDT

PHOTO. Supplied. A scanned original photographed taken of the Syncrude Towers that were built on Moccasin Flats.

Mayor and Council voted to call on Ottawa for a federal inquiry into the Moccasin Flats evictions.

Council made a similar call to the province but did not receive a response.

Mayor Don Scott believes such an inquiry is necessary to move the process forward.

“We requested an inquiry from the province, but that didn’t come to anything so we are going to the federal government and asking them to conduct an inquiry, and that was carried unanimously.”

A federal inquiry can subpoena key witnesses and ask for vital documentation.

A story to tell

One witness to the Moccasin Flats evictions is a former resident, Jean L’Hommecourt.

A residential school survivor, Jean was one of a handful of presenters who spoke about her time in Moccasin Flats.

“Living in Moccasin Flats was a good place, because we were secluded from the town, we were secluded by the bush. We had our own little place to call home.”

When she was a teenager, she saw the large sewer pipes for the towers in her backyard, how her family lost their home to an accidental fire and how nearby workers didn’t offer to help.

Jean L’Hommecourt is in support of the motion and thinks it would serve as a good first step toward reconciliation.

“I think a federal inquiry will open up a lot of avenues for people to address their past hurts and reconcile, as they say, with themselves as far as what’s happened to the Indigenous peoples in this area.”

Others presenters believe Moccasin Flats is one of many examples of displacement of Indigenous peoples in the history of the region.

L’Hommecourt said her home is Treaty 8 territory, not the oilsands.

Moving forward

Councillor Bruce Inglis knew Jean’s family quite well growing up close to her neighbourhood.

He lived in the towers while working for Syncrude and witnessed the devastation of the displacement and its effects.

Then, as he does now, he believes it was unfair and unjust.

However, Inglis doubts in an election year the federal government will act in an adequate amount of time.

“I just wonder with so much focus on one issue, and then there [are] all these issues that have been around for 40, 50 more years that are really not moving forward, so I’m not confident that there will be a quick resolution on this.”

Inglis cited the SNC Lavalin affair as one example currently gripping national attention.

In the end, it comes down to the response from the federal government.

Mayor Scott says he’s optimistic.

“I want to believe that the federal government is going to take action in this. It’s an important item, it’s certainly important to this region, so we’re certainly going to lobby hard and the passing of the motion is the first step.”

The next Council meeting is March 28, 2019.