Municipality Asking For Public Inquiry on Moccasin Flats

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Municipality Asking For Public Inquiry on Moccasin Flats

The municipality is asking the province to conduct a public inquiry about an event considered to be a dark moment in the region’s history.

Wood Buffalo council held a special meeting on Tuesday where they discussed Moccasin Flats.

The inquiry will help find the truth about what happened and reconcile over the events as the current documents may not be telling the entire story.

The RMWB provided some records about the situation, however, they say the documents can’t be fully verified.

In the late 1970s early 1980s, Indigenous residents were forced from their home along the Clearwater and Athabasca junction to help further develop the urban service area.

Eviction notices were issued in 1975 and again in 1977 with seven families remaining. Those homes were bulldozed and burnt down after the families were called to a meeting in the municipality.

The documents say the province did offer these families mobile homes to live in.

Legal services add the municipality never owned the land. Nowadays, the area is home to the ‘Syncrude Towers.’

If the province does conduct the inquiry, they will be able to subpoena potential witnesses who worked for the municipality, industry and the provincial and federal governments.

The province can still deny the request, resulting in the municipality asking the federal government.

Residents Speak

Around 10 residents gave their opinion on the matter – the majority supporting the inquiry.

Marilyn Buffalo, who lived next to Moccasin Flats, says she still remembers the day the homes were demolished.

“I left, I didn’t want my children exposed to what that development brought to our community.”

She notes the inquiry is long overdue.

“Many of the elders who were familiar at that time have passed on and in order for Fort McMurray to move towards a healing process they have to get all the parties involved and come in and testify.”

CEO of the McMurray Mtis Bill Loutitt believes an inquiry that leads to an apology isn’t good enough.

“Reconciliation won’t happen unless there’s a land exchange,” he said. “We want to see change and it has to happen quickly.”

Rita Martin, who counselled individuals impacted, adds the destruction of Moccasin Flats affected them on an emotional level.

“It broke their spirit. I feel for those people, I feel them in my heart.”

McMurray Mtis Report

A separate report was started the by McMurray Mtis in April to examine the cultural history and significance of Moccasin Flats.

On June 18, the RMWB’s legal services and Indigenous and Rural Relations gave the group their documents, dating back to 1911.

“We want to get the facts,” said Loutitt. “We don’t want finger pointing, accusations.”

He adds the report will help them find ‘the truth’ about what happened or who’s responsible.

It’s scheduled to be made public on September 30.
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