By Tim Kalinowski on May 1, 2021.
Former Blood Tribe councillor and Ninastako Cultural Centre cultural instructor Sheldon Joseph Day Chief became the latest candidate to declare his intention to run for mayor in this fall’s municipal election.
Day Chief has maintained a residence in Lethbridge for the past 30 years, and has family ties which go back to the early foundation of the city. Day Chief discloses that his great grandmother was married to Nicholas Sheran, who is often recognized as the founder of the early community when it was still known as Coal Banks.
Day Chief says despite this family history his eyes are firmly fixed on the problems of the present. He feels current city council members have aggravated those problems.
“We need a leader who is out there,” he says, “and is going to step up and be a part of the community. Not sit in an office and do nothing at all; especially with our current elected council. Some of them are part of a community organization or movement called ‘Connecting Our Community,’ but they are nowhere in sight. They are not involved in creating solutions. They are not listening to the people. They are not concerned about the safety of people in the city. Creating this separatism attitude, being MIA, and sticking their heads in the sand is creating nothing but uncertainty for everybody in the city of Lethbridge.”
Day Chief says as mayor he hopes to bring people together to solve problems rather than just fight about them.
“I guess I could say the citizens of Lethbridge will truly have to listen to the candidates who are going to be running for office,” Day Chief states. “We need people who are speaking the same language to do this. If we are voting individuals that have created a separatism within council as it is right now– then it will never work.”
“Crime rates are rising and homlessness is rising,” he adds. “The opioid epidemic, and now crystal meth and new drugs coming out, it is only going to get worse if the City’s leadership do not start working together.”
Day Chief was asked how as mayor he would create such unity when there are clear divisions in the city over issues like homelessness, the drug crisis, taxation and municipal spending priorities.
“If they feel it is not their problem and their issue, it’s a very sadly mistaken point of view,” he says referring to homelessness specifically as an example. “It’s everybody’s problem, and the City of Lethbridge has a responsibility to every citizen within the City of Lethbridge. That is what being a municipal government is all about. The other thing is when we are talking about taxpayers’ dollars and stuff like that– this is the financial planning that needs to go into place here. Better financial planning in order to come up with solutions. All citizens of Lethbridge need to come together and come to have their voices heard so practical solutions come forth. We cannot stay divided. This division has only created and escalated this issue of homelessness and crime. That is all it has ever done.”
Day Chief says it is time for the city to come together as a unified, multicultural people.
“It is not just First Nations people that are stuck in a drug epidemic, or the homeless epidemic, it is from all races,” he says. “If people can open their eyes, and go visit the homeless shelters they will see there are various cultures that are stuck in this syndrome. When people target one group all it does is it escalates racism, and we as a city, which has been formally dubbed ‘the most racist city’ in Canada, we need to come together and approach this situation and nip the racism and deal with it.”
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