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Discussions begin over fire assistance

Posted on June 21, 2016 by Maple Creek

Healing Lodge and Nekaneet speak with RM

By Megan Roth

The RM of Maple Creek and Nekaneet First Nations have entered discussions for the RM to deliver fire support to the treaty area.
While discussions have begun no agreement has been signed by either party.
Because the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge is on Nekaneet land there has been no agreement reached with them either.
Fire Chief for the RM of Maple Creek Jack Zieffle  said the fire department cannot provide fire assistance until there is an agreement signed with the band first.
“We can’t go on treaty ground unless we have an agreement with them,” he said.
According to a letter sent to Mayor Barry Rudd of Maple Creek from Correctional Service Canada, signed by Lee Anne Skene, the executive director of Okima Ohci Healing Lodge, the Healing Lodge has met with the RM to begin discussions.
“We met with the RM of Maple Creek as well and they are going to proceed with updating the Memorandum of Understanding between the RM and the Town,” the letter, dated May 12, 2016, read.
The letter continues to say the updated agreement will allow the Town of Maple Creek and the OOHL to utilize the fire trucks from the RM of Maple Creek for any fire arising at the Healing Lodge.
Zieffle said the Healing Lodge has come to them but because Correctional Services Canada leases the land the Healing Lodge sits on, nothing can be done at the time.
Members from Nekaneet have come to the RM and sat with the council during a meeting in May.
“We are at the beginning of discussions with them, but haven’t heard anything further after the meeting,” Zieffle said.
Nekaneet came to the RM of Maple Creek’s council after a fire destroyed a home on the reserve the beginning of May. Because there was no agreement in place neither the RM of Maple Creek or the Town of Maple Creek’s fire departments were able to go and help.
After the fire there appears to be a pressure to arrange an agreement in case the situation arises again.
The letter from Correctional Services Canada also stated the importance of getting an agreement finalized quickly.
“The parties acknowledge that time is of the essence…” the letter stated.

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