Tsuu T'ina says ring road beneficial for future generations
'A better future for all our children and grandchildren,' says band spokesperson
After half a century of debate, the ring road through the Tsuu T'ina First Nation in Calgary's southwest will be completed.
Tsuu T'ina Peter Manywounds spokesperson was on the Calgary Eyeopener talking about how his community is receiving the news.
- Hear the full interview by clicking the "Listen" button to the left.
"I think people are adjusting to it. I think the history goes back over 50 years, as we all know, and it's certainly not just from the Calgary or Alberta side of the fence. It's been a discussion that's been ongoing within the community, so the decision last Thursday was a culmination of a very long process," says Manywounds.
People's homes are there and that is definitely one of the more difficult aspects of this whole arrangement.- Tsuu T'ina spokesperson Peter Manywounds
He feels it is a good choice for the future of the community.
"It became clearer, I think to me, and finally to other nation members it wasn't just about a road — as Chief Whitney said on Friday — it was about a better future for all our children and grandchildren and the majority of members, as they voted obviously, felt the same way," said Manywounds.
"I think people voted with their hearts and what they felt was best for the community and I think that was fair. I think that was a good thing."
Attempts to reach a deal have been tried many times before, but Manywounds said this time was different.
"I think the key difference that made it acceptable to people as compared to 2009 were the guarantees that weren't contained in the previous deal ... the guarantee that the deal would actually be completed, that the additional lands would transfer, that the access points to the city of Calgary were guaranteed. None of those things were guaranteed, the language was very vague.
"The major difference I think was certainty."
Manywounds says the road will travel through some nice land.
Home relocation a difficult aspect of new deal
"There's a lot of diverse features to that area. A lot of it was under agricultural use, some was crop land, much of it was pasture land for many years. There's a lodge area that we call clay marsh that was a fairly significant area to the community and certainly to those families affected and that's moving north from Anderson Road towards the Weaselhead.
"There's spots that weren't used for agricultural purposes throughout that route. People's homes are there and that is definitely one of the more difficult aspects of this whole arrangement."
Manywounds says the community feels it is a fair deal.
"I think our members voted as clearly as they could for an opportunity for the future, knowing there will be major changes, knowing some people would be affected but we'll look after them and also knowing that we get replacement lands on the west end of the reserve that are in far better condition environmentally than the lands we are giving up."
How the funds will be distributed is still to be decided.
"There are many questions that remain to be answered as to how we go forward and it will involve all nation members in that discussion," said Manywounds.
"What's best for the whole nation? What's best for young people? How do we put funds aside in minors' trust funds and how do we pay those out? How do we ensure that they take advantage of this opportunity and we haven't arrived at any hard and fast decisions at this point. It's a discussion the community still has to have."
In the past, any land claim settlements on Tsuu T'ina have seen the nation keep half and the other half has been paid out on a per capita basis so every member gets an equal share.
The nation is also planning extensive business developments along the ring road in the future that will generate revenue and jobs for the community.