By Kalinowski, Tim on February 12, 2020.
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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