October 22nd, 2020

Conference discusses vision for Indigenous Cultural Centre

By Mabell, Dave on November 19, 2019.

Participants listen as opening speaker Leroy Little Bear gives his presentation as part of the Indigenous Cultural Centre visioning conference Monday at the Galt Museum. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald


In Whitehorse, the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre has become the signature piece in the Yukon city’s riverfront redevelopment plan. Near Saskatoon, the Wanuskewin Heritage Park shares the story of the Indigenous peoples of the northern plains.

There’s nothing comparable in Alberta to tell the story of the Blackfoot Confederacy, however. On Monday, a visioning conference opened in Lethbridge to discern what could be done in response to that need.

Nearly 100 people will be taking part in the two-day event, representing Blackfoot leaders, educators and professionals as well as southern Alberta’s arts, tourism, business and educational services.

It’s too soon to predict what form a cultural centre could take, said Perry Stein, Indigenous relations adviser for the City of Lethbridge. It’s hoped participants will create a vision for the project, as well as a plan to support it.

“It could be a place where healing and wellness could take place,” he says.

Recommendations from conference participants will be sent to city council early in the new year, Stein says. Council recently included $300,000 in its capital budget to start the process, he explains.

“Council will decide how it wants to proceed.”

But discussions around the need for an Indigenous cultural initiative have been taking place for a number of years, Stein says. While major attractions like Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump and the Writing-on-Stone UNESCO site focus on early history, other facilities across Canada were created to share knowledge about First Nations and Aboriginal peoples in recent and current times.

As an example, he says, archeologist Blair First Rider was part of the team that assisted with the expansive “human history” gallery at the new Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton. Now senior curator at Head-Smashed-In, First Rider is one of more than 20 invited to speak during the conference.

Its themes, Stein says, include language and learning, visual and performance arts, place-making with community and ceremonial spaces, traditional food, the creative economy (including tourism and entrepreneurship), health and wellness, and “the voice of the land.”

Those fields of interest could later involve many more southern Albertans, he notes. As plans proceed, Stein expects more community members will support the vision.

“Partnerships are so important.”

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It sounds like an idea, but are you going to use it as a platform to attack non-FN people and scream genocide and use ‘colonism’ to attack us? That is what is happening in other areas.
It defeats all possbility of ‘reconciliation’, which defined is “the process of making two people or groups of people friendly again after they have argued seriously or fought and kept apart from each other, or a situation in which this happens”. That means the past of forgiven and forgotten, not to be used to attack the other party!

You have a place on the highway near Kipp that could be used, the property you were going to build a casino on. No Lethbridge tax dollars should be put into this project and should be paid for by the Blackfoot Confederation. Why?

Lethbridge has its streets and neighbourhoods being over-run by FN criminals and addicts, the high costs of the Safe Consumption Site, in which over 80% of the safe consumption users are FN, and related programs such as D.O.T., the Watch and the extra costs of policing, fire and EMS to respond to the addicts and criminals is rising so the citizens of this city are already paying a high price for our relations with the FN.

No city tax money for this project. How many are aware that our City Council meetings no longer have the invocation of a prayer but more of a pledge that this city is Blackfoot and Metis land.

If you have ever attended a meeting you would have heard it . . . now I know that the Supreme Court of Canada banned councils from prayer at meetings, but look at what this Mayor replaced prayer with:

”I acknowledge that we are gathered on the lands of the Blackfoot people of the Canadian Plains and I pay respect to the Blackfoot people past, present and future, while recognizing and respecting their cultural heritage, beliefs, and relationships to the land. The city of Lethbridge is also home to the Metis Nation of Alberta, Region III.”

In essence it states we are on their land!

This city was built on the blood sweat and tears of many of our ancestors that came here in the late1800’s and in the 1870’s there were still indigenous warriors killing the settlers and one book I was reading stated that there were 70 settlers killed in Southern Alberta around the 1870 period, but you don’t hear about that and after all the searches of my family’s past, there was only that book that outlined their attacks. Has there been censorship?

I really do not like the Mayor selling out city our to the FN! He is supposed to govern this city, mandated in Alberta government rules, to serve the people of this city as a whole, not people that live in other communities! He is welcome to move to Standoff and run there if that is where he wants to put his allegiance!

Earlier this year council passed a one-time allocation of $150,000 in 2019 to add new flag poles in front of Lethbridge City Hall to “permanently” fly the Blackfoot Confederacy and Reconciliation Lethbridge flags.

The Mayor brags of his Blackfoot Name:
Nitsikimmapiiyipitsi – a compassionate person or one with a heart, and his friend Mr. Plaited Hair.

This is the City of Lethbridge! It is time we saw new leadership and next election there will be new faces on the City Council and in the the Mayor’s chair since he has sold out our city to addicts and First Nations!

No taxpayer money should go to this project! We still need to put more trained police officers on the streets and more EMS to respond to the crisis on our streets that is largely from FN.
Look at the names in the news of all the violent crimes, robberies, drug busts . . . most are FN and over 80% of the safe consumption section of the SCS site are FN.
This city is already been bled dry by the crisis and we need leadership in this city that will recognize the problem and not attack genuine and legitmate complaints in the community.

No Lethbridge taxpayer money for this project!


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