January 17th, 2021

Indigenous Cultural Centre decision deferred

By Kalinowski, Tim on February 12, 2020.

Indigenous relations advisor Perry Stein speaks on the Indigenous Cultural Centre feasibility study final report and recommendations at Monday’s city council meeting. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald


Lethbridge city council deferred a decision on funding any potential Indigenous Cultural Centre until next February’s Capital Improvement Plan deliberations.

Council was presented with a thorough report on the matter during Monday’s public meeting and Perry Stein, Indigenous relations adviser for the City of Lethbridge, said he and the cultural centre’s supporters intend to use the time to provide more clarity on what the site may ultimately encompass.

“The range of scales of cost we identify on this project is anywhere from $5-10 million to $18-20 million,” he explained. “Again, that’s not necessarily out of the gate how much this is going to cost. It might be an incremental cost over time depending on how we start and the path we go. There is also opportunity for community partners to play a role in the development of a cultural centre.”

Stein said council could decide to start out small and grow the centre over time or go for a larger-scale project out of the gate. Similar to the city’s other cultural centres such as the Lethbridge Italian Club, the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association and other locations which celebrate Lethbridge’s cultural diversity, the new Indigenous cultural centre would serve as a bridge between local Indigenous peoples and the broader Lethbridge community, said Stein.

“Lethbridge is in the home of the Blackfoot territory,” he stated. “This has been Blackfoot territory for thousands of years. Lethbridge is also home to an Indigenous urban community of upwards of 10,000 people. There are several thousands of Indigenous students who come to school here every day.

“There are also hundreds of people who flow between Standoff or Brocket for work every day.

“Lethbridge is an Indigenous community, but there is very little reflection of Indigenous culture, Blackfoot culture, in the urban fabric of this community in the programs and services that are offered. This is a great opportunity to not only meet the needs of the community, but to generate opportunities for the community.”

Stein said although city council is not ready to “buy shovels now,” with a lot more planning to be done, he hoped a site could potentially be chosen as soon as 2021, and some work could be started to prepare the ground for the eventual structure to be built there.

“Because we heard from the community the biggest need we have right now is an outdoor gathering place, we want to do a little more detailed design of what that could look like and potentially move that part of the project forward faster,” Stein said.

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We are in the City of Lethbridge, a city that is already paying millions out due to the impacts of living in close proximity to the largest reserve in Canada and near 2 others.
Why is the city planning on paying all those tax dollars out for a group that should be building it themselves. Are we building Scottish Cultural Centers, Ukrainian Cultural Centers, Japanese Cultural Centers, Etc., using Lethbridge resident tax dollars?
We already have taken away the invocation prayers at Council gatherings/meetings and replaced it with this:

“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.”

Council passed a motion for $150,000 to be spent on flagpoles to fly the Blackfoot Confederacy Flag and the Reconciliation Flag full time in front fo City Hall, how much did the OKI sign cost, the costs of housing all of the homeless FN on our streets and policing, fire/EMS and on and on and now you want to spend anywhere from $5-$20 million building a cultural center for a group that should be paying for it themselves!!???

This Council needs to go . . . we spent $40 miilion on two Arts centers downtown and many do not want to go to those venues due to te crime in the area, We spent $20 million on a parkade that is barely used for parking, and the office space still remains empty!

We need a bridge to the westside and may other priorities first and foremost. We should not be building such a building and this administration continues to sell our city out to the FN, making decisions that consider them first, above the citizens of this city, the taxpayer who have to pay for this!

Reconciliation shouldn’t mean paying even more than what we have to sacrifice, it goes both ways and what are they doing? The massive center built in Winnipeg, was used to display a large presentation accusing us of genocide against the FN . . . is that reconciliation?

Canadians already pay over $14 billion annually to support FN/Inuit while evey major project to generate revenues in this country is shut down by FN groups! They want money but they don’t want us to have the ability to pay for those projects.

Enough . . . . if they want this center they can build it on their own land near Kipp, using their own money! This city should not have to pay for this, period!!!