By Lethbridge Herald on September 19, 2017.
A new flag was raised Tuesday at city hall, as part of the first Reconciliation Week initiative in Lethbridge. And next week, the yellow-and-black reconciliation-themed banner will be replaced by the official Blackfoot Confederacy flag.
A pipe offering ceremony, a teepee raising and a reconciliation walk through downtown streets were also part of Tuesday’s observations, organized in response to recommendations from the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Further events will be held through the week.
But the reconciliation process will continue for 10 years, pointed out Mayor Chris Spearman. And it’s not just city officials and community leaders who will make it happen.
“It’s all of us,” he said. “It’s how we respond, how we treat each other.”
Lethbridge is taking a lead, the mayor added, becoming one of the first communities to create and take action on a reconciliation plan.
“It’s a start,” with much more to do.
One of the goals, Spearman said, is to ensure every Lethbridge resident has equal access to housing, employment, education and opportunities.
Representatives of MP Rachael Harder and MLAs Maria Fitzpatrick and Shannon Phillips brought messages of support for the city’s initiatives, and for the large reconciliation committee formed to respond to the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s findings.
The event’s MC, Travis Plaited Hair, also acknowledged the leadership shown by Lethbridge College, which raised a Blackfoot Confederacy flag Tuesday which will fly permanently.
“That’s really significant,” he said.
Organizers also managed to surprise their committee co-chairperson, Roy Pogorzelski.
Kainai elders were on hand to ceremonially bestow him a Blackfoot name, meaning “Honourable Man.” After serving as the city’s diversity consultant, Pogorzelski has become the director of FNMI student services at the University of Lethbridge.
Later in the morning, the Galt Museum was the venue for a presentation, “What is Reconciliation,” by Ontario law professor Beverley Jacobs, former president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. On Tuesday evening, the downtown library presented a screening of “Where is Home,” a gritty documentary showing how homeless people try to survive in Lethbridge.
Today, the Lethbridge Métis Local is holding an open house at 909 3 Ave. N., from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Residents are invited to learn about Métis culture and the Michif language.
A full-day event Friday, open to all, “Coming Together will be held in the civic oval south of the Fritz Sick Centre. Song and dance, teepee-raising demonstrations, a community feast and a friendship dance will be part of the program, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
On Saturday, the theatre production “New Blood” will feature traditional and contemporary poetry, song and dance. It’s scheduled for 7 p.m. at Casa.
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