Sioux Lookout is reaping the rewards of a strong alliance with its neighbouring First Nations built on trust and collaboration.
Mayor Doug Lawrance spoke on a virtual panel at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario annual conference (AMO) this week on how communities can develop meaningful relationships with Indigenous people.
Located halfway between Thunder Bay and Winnipeg, Lawrance said the fruits of the town’s relationships with the 30 First Nations communities, and the roughly 30,000 people, they serve has become easier to harvest because of the work done by his predecessors on council.
During the 1980s, after Sioux Lookout lost hundreds of forestry, railway and military jobs – the latter from the closure of a NORAD radar base – many residents “thought Sioux Lookout was dying,” said Lawrance. “It was actually transforming.”
To the north, airports and scheduled air service were quickly developing in the remote communities. Sioux Lookout became an air travel hub but also evolved as a regional administrative centre for tribal councils, education, health care and social service agencies, and communications.