June 05, 2017
Congratulations to Past President Debra Button! She received the Roll of Honour at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) annual conference last week. Past President Button joins more than 100 other recipients over more than 30 years who have a proven record of sustained exceptional service to municipal government in Canada and to the goals and objectives of the FCM, and who have served FCM with distinction.
During her time as Mayor of Weyburn, Debra Button was actively involved with SUMA through the City Mayors’ Caucus; her involvement brought valuable insight to that sector. She was also involved at the federal level during much of her time as mayor, through the FCM. She held several positions with FCM, including Vice-Chair of FCM's Standing Committee on International Relations, the Gender Government Representative for Ukraine, and PTA Representative on FCM's Executive Committee. She also took part in FCM international missions to Ukraine, to share her experience as a female mayor.
Debra was elected SUMA President in 2013, and made history as SUMA’s first female president. This historic role complemented her continued work in encouraging women to seek leadership roles, especially those in municipal politics. She was invited to speak at a variety of events, at home and abroad, on the importance of gender diversity and strong leadership to inspire the next generation, and crossed cultural boundaries in encouraging the leadership of First Nations and Métis women.
Debra immediately showed her capabilities as a strong and charismatic leader for our Association, working tirelessly on behalf of our more than 440 members. Though there are many examples of Debra’s leadership, one of the most pivotal examples was her impassioned defence of municipal revenue sharing in 2015, when the Government ofSaskatchewan speculated that “everything is on the table” due to an economic downturn. Her leadership in meetings, the media, and through a stellar President’s Address at SUMA’s 110th Annual Convention, succeeded in convincing the provincial government to maintain a municipal funding model that has become the envy of the other provinces and territories. In the wake of that victory, she visited many of our sister associations, including the AMO, the UMQ, and the AUMA, to tell the story of SUMA’s advocacy work with the provincial government that led to creation of this nation-leading revenue sharing formula.
From the moment of her election as SUMA President, Debra raised the Association’s profile in the media, and increased our influence with our partners in other orders of government. Her level of engagement and preparation made her an excellent brand champion, inspiring and rallying our members behind her, educating the public on the role of SUMA, and establishing a reputation within provincial government as a strong, capable, and respected municipal leader.
She brought her fierce determination to advocate on behalf of Saskatchewan’s hometowns to her work with FCM, taking on the PTA Representative role, and looking for every opportunity to work on behalf of SUMA’s members whenever and wherever she could. From acting as the Vice-Chair of the Saskatchewan Scrap Tire Organization to serving as the elected representative to the National Nuclear Waste Municipal Advisory Board, Debra ensured that SUMA’s voice was heard whenever issues of municipal importance were discussed, inside or outside of Saskatchewan.
Impressively, Debra managed to fulfill and expand her role while still spending quality time with her family, whether it was during relaxing weekends at home or summer days at the lake. She frequently credited the support of her family for allowing and inspiring her to work on behalf of her community and the causes dear to her heart.
You would be hard pressed to find a more devoted, inspiring, engaged, passionate, and extraordinary municipal leader than Debra Button. She made a true difference in Saskatchewan municipalities. On behalf of SUMA and our members, we congratulate her on the recognition of her outstanding contributions through selection for the FCM Roll of Honour.