October 17th, 2017

Scholarships to honour Blackfoot advocates


By Mabell, Dave on September 20, 2017.

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald

dmabell@lethbridgeherald.com

The Blackfoot cultural preservation efforts of four southern Alberta men will live on with a new generation of leaders, thanks to a new University of Lethbridge scholarship program.

Former Glenbow Museum president Robert Janes announced its first recipients Tuesday, during Reconciliation Week events at city hall. Janes, the chief executive officer at the Calgary museum for 11 years, explained how he came to know the four cultural advocates: Narcisse Blood, Gerald Conaty, Allan Pard and Frank Weasel Head.

“I knew these men and worked with them closely over the course of 25 years,” he explained.

During that time, the museum hired Blackfoot staff, formed a First Nations advisory council and developed relationships with the Blackfoot Confederacy nations in Canada. Eventually, they developed a plan to return sacred objects to their original communities – the largest repatriation of its kind in Canadian history.

More recently, his four advisers were taken.

“They all passed away within three years of each other,” but Janes and his wife Priscilla were determined to honour their wisdom and friendships.

“They were all key players in preserving the Blackfoot culture in Alberta,” he said.

Recognizing the university’s longstanding commitment to First Nations, Metis and Inuit education, he contacted U of L officials.

“The University of Lethbridge was a natural, because it truly is in the heart of Blackfoot country and has a very strong presence of both Blackfoot undergraduate and graduate students.”

The graduate and undergraduate level awards will be available to Blackfoot Confederacy students from Kainai, Piikani and Siksika nations “who actively participate and contribute to their Blackfoot culture and heritage through activities of preservation, interpretation or celebration.”

The inaugural recipients are U of L students Constance Day Chief, Alison Frank, Miracle Grier and Malcolm Many Chiefs.

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