BIGHORN – The Stoney Nakoda First Nation has filed an appeal against the development permit related to the McDougall Church restoration project.
Announced last June, the McDougall Stoney Mission Society received the green light from the province to move forward with restoring the well-known McDougall Church that was located along Highway 1A after a fire set deliberately burned down the historic 142-year-old building in 2017.
While the society rejoiced the decision, documents obtained by the Rocky Mountain Outlook show the band has been trying to convey its position that the provincial historic site designation should only be renewed if the historic significance of the site is recognized from the viewpoint of the Stoney Nakoda people and not just from the viewpoint of settler society, the Christian church and the McDougall Stoney Mission Society – with letters sent as early as March 2019.
"Any historical recognition and designation must include references to the painful legacy that for many Stoney Nakoda members is associated with the church [and] to date, the Stoney Tribal Council have not been provided with any indication or evidence that this new historic interpretation will be part of any restoration of the church," the appeal letter states.
"Absent this new interpretation of the significance of the site should be forgotten, not celebrated."
L. Douglas Rae, legal counsel for the band, said a letter was also sent in October advising the MD of Bighorn of the First Nation's position in opposition to granting a development permit.
McDougall Stoney Mission Society president Brenda McQueen said the society has no comment at this time.
The appeal lawyer said he is awaiting further instructions from Chief and council.
To date, the McDougall Stoney Mission Society has raised $397,000 of its $574,000 fundraising goal for the restoration project.
There will be a public appeal hearing taking place in the Exshaw council chambers on Feb. 18 at 6:30 p.m., located at 2 Heart Mountain Drive.