Resident of Bashaw says town is not racist

Written by ECA Review

Dear Editor,
How distressing the one-sided media coverage of the issues surrounding the “Bear Hills Wellness Centre” proposal in Bashaw have become.

I have lived in or around Bashaw for 43 years and have found this community welcoming, caring and tolerant. The current media coverage emphasizes this situation as a racial issue but I do not believe that is at all true.

The initial proposal described the facility and program as an “addiction treatment facility” serving Indigenous families with substance abuse issues. Mysteriously it became a “wellness centre.”

The location is adjacent to residential housing and only one block from a K-12 school.

How unfortunate that Bashaw has been painted as prejudicial and discriminatory when actually we are not.

Margaret Baier
Bashaw, Alta.

Editor’s note:
There has been some controversy on social media and elsewhere whether the Bear Hills Wellness Centre was ever referred to as “rehab” or whether addictions programs were ever mentioned as possibly being part of Bear Hills Wellness Centre. Readers may benefit from this excerpt from a June 20, 2021 story by LJI reporter Stu Salkeld about the Bear Hills Wellness Centre’s first denial at Bashaw town council.

In this excerpt one of the property owners, Dr. Tony Muccarione, himself refers to the proposed centre as a rehabilitation program. Later in the story the other property owner, James Carpenter, himself mentioned Young Spirit Winds (YSW) program which on the website describes YSW as “Maskwacis Young Spirit Winds Society provides addiction treatment to adolescents of the First Nation; they aim to help them become healthier and sober.”

June 20, 2021 ECA Story: What began as a delegation to Bashaw town council requesting permission to accommodate a First Nations family rehab program ended with one of the applicants accusing town councillors of racism.

The incident occurred at the June 17 regular meeting of council.

Dr. Tony Mucciaroni and James Carpenter spoke to council via Zoom on behalf of the Bashaw Retreat Centre located at 5340 51a Street, asking that councillors approve a plan to host First Nations family rehab programs at the centre.

In a letter dated June 17 Mucciaroni stated, “Presently there is a proposal to work with Indigenous people from Maskwacis for a rehabilitation program.
This program would involve temporary housing while in the rehabilitation program and sometimes family members will be involved with this.”

Carpenter stated he and Mucciaroni are working with a group from Maskwacis called Young Spirit Winds Society which offers a day program for First Nations youth aged 12 to 17 which helps them work through addictions and other issues and Young Spirit Winds is developing a family-based program to compliment the youth one.

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