June 4, 2020
Dear Honorable Minister Madu and Minister Wilson,
RE: Mackenzie County
We are writing to address the May 18th, 2020, Mackenzie County Reeve Josh Knelsen’s public criticism on social media of the Alberta Government’s COVID-19 restrictions. Although this post was made several weeks ago, it is important that we address our disappointment with your ministry’s inaction towards your municipal elected official and his public broadcast, voicing his disgust with restrictions enacted by the very same government he serves.
COVID-19 is an unpreceded crisis that is an ongoing global pandemic and in response to this pandemic, Alberta Government issued a public health emergency on March 171112, 020. Since this declaration, the Sovereign Nations of Treaty 8 have taken extreme measures to protect their nation members, Elders and children and our vulnerable communities from this deadly virus.
The Sovereign Nations of Treaty 8 supports the restrictions enacted by Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. The protection of members, the vulnerable including our Elders, who are our knowledge holders and most precious resources at our Nations has been our main priority. It is critical that your ministry ensures every local government in Alberta adheres to the Public Health Act and restrictions implemented, and more importantly, that your elected officials understand their obligations under the Municipal Government Act and their duties as elected officials.
The comments made by Reeve Josh Knelson were very concerning not only because he holds local government public office, but because the County of Mackenzie did very little to implement the measures stipulated by the Government of Alberta. His opinions on this virus created tension which is not the purpose of this letter. The safety and protection of our people and communities is the purpose and it is imperative that we all do our part to protect the people.
Moving forward, we are looking for assurance that your ministry will conduct itself accordingly and ensure your local governments do the same. Your prompt response to this letter is greatly appreciated.
Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta