There is a lot happening on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation.
While it might be easy to focus on the negative, there are also many examples of positives as the bands work toward economic development and community members battle social issues.
The announcement of both the Bearspaw Kananskis Travel Centre and the Chiniki Band’s plans for a new interpretive centre will hopefully be boons for short-term local jobs and long-term gains in tourism dollars.
A partnership between the Nation and the service and hospitality sector in Banff and Canmore is also helping employ people and making it easier for workers to get to work by providing transportation.
Community youth and elders are also taking the fight to drug, alcohol and crime issues – problems that are deeply rooted together. Two videos – one in the works – are raising awareness about the effects of drug-related death and crime on First Nation communities.
A number of town hall meetings have also given residents the chance to brainstorm ideas and voice concerns with Nation leadership.
Most recently Chief Darcy Dixon attended an economic roundtable with leaders from Banff and Canmore to discuss how the Stoney people can be more involved in tourism discussions to help promote regional economic development.
Dixon, who was promoting co-operation, also took the opportunity to chide neighbouring communities for not tapping into the valuable resource the Stoney people represent when it comes to Bow Valley tourism and local knowledge.
A 2016 study on tourism in the region neglected the First Nation, a serious oversight considering aboriginal knowledge, which dates back centuries, can only enhance any tourism strategy.
Aside from the resource the Stoney people can provide in economic development, the Bow Valley is traditional Stoney territory – a region they are deeply connected to. That means they deserve to be shown the respect of consultation when decisions are made on that land.
Failure to discuss these types of opportunities with First Nation communities also demonstrates the depth of public hypocrisy toward aboriginal people.
Many critics blast First Nation communities for crime rates, low employments and high levels of social problems.
Unfortunately, many of those issues were caused by systemic abuse at the hands of colonizers and today many expect First Nations people to solve those problems in isolation.
The Stoney community is working hard toward its own betterment, but just like any community or any individual hat can’t be done in isolation. When the Bow Valley region comes together to improve the region, it should not do so without including the Stoney Nakoda First Nation.