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EPCOR, Alberta First Nations sign water agreement in ‘spirit of reconciliation’

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Alberta’s Enoch Cree First Nation has signed an agreement with water utility EPCOR to collaborate on the development and implementation of local water projects and advance a “spirit of reconciliation”, says the utility’s CEO.

Signed on the former reserve lands of Enoch Cree Nation, at the E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant on September 1, the memorandum of understanding (MOU) follows a year of consultations and occurred at a ceremony that included a pipe and drum celebration by Enoch singers.

“We haven’t danced in regalia on this land in over 100 years,” said Chief William Morin of Enoch Cree Nation in a speech at the signing. “And it didn’t come at the government table, it didn’t come at the mayor’s table, and it didn’t come at the premier’s table — it came from EPCOR […],” he added.

Chief Morin called the MOU “a partnership that honours our stewardship of Treaty lands and resources.”

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Stuart Lee, EPCOR president and CEO, explained in a statement that both parties will work together to ensure the E.L. Smith and Rossdale Water Treatment Plants continue to be centres for the production of safe, clean water for future generations.

Rossdale Water Treatment Plant diagram
(Click to enlarge) Diagram showing the Rossdale Water Treatment Plant process. Image courtesy of EPCOR.

The Rossdale plant, providing water since 1903, is in Edmonton’s North Saskatchewan River valley, while the E.L. Smith facility, which has a capacity of 400 megalitres per day, is situated right along the North Saskatchewan River. Both plants are on Treaty 6 territory.

Lee added that the MOU is a “shared commitment to rediscovering history and reconnecting Enoch Cree Nation and its people with their historic lands.”

EPCOR officials stated that they will also work to reconnect the Maskêkosihk peoples to their land through activities such as plant harvesting for traditional purposes, and formalizing archeological processes.

“It charts a path forward — one where EPCOR and Enoch will walk together,” said Lee during a speech at the signing.

An EPCOR-Enoch Cree Nation Working Group will be established by an exchange of letters between the Chief of Enoch Cree Nation and the Senior Vice President of EPCOR Water Services in which each party will identify their representatives.

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