June 14th, 2024

Flag raising a call to reconciliation


By Herald on June 21, 2021.

Dancer Theron Black performs at the Blackfoot Confederacy flag raising ceremony Monday morning at city hall. Herald photo by Al Beeber

Al Beeber –  Lethbridge Herald

Reconciliation and respect were among themes addressed Monday during the raising of the Blackfoot Confederacy flag at City Hall.

Under the blazing morning sun, multiple speakers spoke to a socially-distanced crowd during a ceremony emceed by Pam Beebe, Indigenous Relations Co-ordinator of the City of Lethbridge.

Speakers included Mayor Chris Spearman and Lethbridge West MLA Shannon Phillips, who spoke of Spearman’s leadership on Indigenous dialogue with the Lethbridge community.

Dance performances were given by Theron and Cindy Black with drumming by Sheldon Day Chief.

Blanche Bruised Head, Blackfoot interpreter at the Galt Museum and Archives, started off with a prayer to the creator  in her native language which she described to the audience before reciting it. 

“I’m asking, I’m begging for, I’m beseeching to his power, his love, his grace, his mercy and his absolute love for the human beings that walk this world.

I’ll be asking him to give blessings and to keep an eye on the young people that are forging ahead into our future to make this world a better place for us,” she said.

“There’s been several good news that I’ve heard, the Blood Tribe chief council and the City of Lethbridge mayor and council signed a MOU (memorandum of understanding) to work together for things to be better within our communities.

“It’s a real great big step forward and I’m so grateful to get that information.”

Bruised Head said the discovery of children’s graves at a Kamloops residential school put “a spotlight sits on what is really wrong within our communities.

“Those are the things that make us look at each other, like what is going on with us people? We have to stop seeing the differences in the other person. ..we have to begin to understand that we are in this world, in this one world, one planet earth, we breathe just one air, we enjoy the sunlight of one sun and it gives us one life for each and every one of us. 

“We have to learn to come together once and for all and hopefully, today can be the first day of the rest of our lives.. . . We are one people, let’s work together, Bruised Head said.

Spearman said “I speak on behalf of all members of Lethbridge city council to bring greetings to celebrate the National Indigenous People Day.

As the Blackfoot flag is raised, “it is a significant reminder of the many and diverse contributions of the Blackfoot people that they have made and continue to make in our community,” Spearman said.

“By celebrating these contributions in Lethbridge and elsewhere, we create space for truth telling, dialogue, partnership, reconciliation and respect in our community,” Spearman said.

Spearman pointed out that a new flagpole is being constructed that will enable to the city to fly the Blackfoot flag and reconciliation flag permanently along with the city, provincial and Canada flag.

Spearman said the discovery of graves at the Kamloops residential school wasn’t an isolated incident and that survivors  “carry the long lasting wounds inflicted on them by the residential school system and have been passed down from generation to generation.”

“As we’ve witnessed over the last few weeks, dialogue and coming together are more important than ever. ….Hearing the truth is an important and integral piece of reconciliation and one which we must ocntinute to support, he said.

Phillips said “I want to remind everyone that this didn’t use to happen,” she said of Monday’s event.”

None of the progress happened by accident, she said.

“It happened because the people of Lethbridge pushed for it, and the people that we elected. . responded to that democratic request by citizens to do better.

We have a memorandum of understanding with the Blood tribe, that’s big, we never used to have that. We have all these different committees and so many ways that we are doing the work in this city. The indigenous people are part of the work of decision making at the local level. 

“Let’s just think about how far we’ve come and how much more we can do and how much each and everyone of us has a responsibility to both ask our representatives to do that work, whether we’re indigenous or non Indigenous. Quite frankly, we who aren’t Indigenous have more responsibility I think to carry our weight,” Phillips said.

She said voters need to ask politicians for action. 

“Make sure what we are saying is not just words but real plans that are practical, that resourced, that have steps associated with them. That’s how we work together,” Phillips said.

Blood Tribe councillor Piinaakoyim Tailfeathers told the audience racism has to stop and better relationships be built between the city and Blackfoot nation.

 “It’s time for Lethbridge to recognize we are a powerhouse. It’s time for us to work together and build a strong economic relationship and treat each other with respect.”

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Seth Anthony

We have to stop seeing the differences in the other person. ..we have to begin to understand that we are in this world, in this one world, one planet earth, we breathe just one air, we enjoy the sunlight of one sun and it gives us one life for each and every one of us. 
“We have to learn to come together once and for all and hopefully, today can be the first day of the rest of our lives.. . . We are one people, let’s work together, Bruised Head said.

Those are wise words, but I fail to see how they apply to Lethbridge. The people of Lethbridge have been profoundly accommodating to Indigenous people on many, many levels. What more are they expecting from the Lethbridge citizens?

“Working together” isn’t a one way street. The Lethbridge citizens have done all they can do. We can not change the past. Yet over and over, the general consensus with Indigenous people seems to be about dwelling on the past and using the past as a reason for abhorrent behavior. They need to realize that doing so is only harming themselves and giving more power to the mindset that created the victims in the first place.

Only when Indigenous people cease dwelling on the past and coveting a victim role, will they see the true “healing” that they often speak of.

Last edited 2 years ago by Seth Anthony