May 20th, 2024

SAGE Clan sets up shelter

By Lethbridge Herald on January 11, 2022.

SAGE Clan has erected at teepee and tent structures as a makeshift homeless shelter location on the site of the former RCMP detachment along Stafford Drive South. Herald photo by Al Beeber

Al Beeber – Lethbridge Herald

SAGE Clan of Lethbridge has opened a makeshift shelter for homeless Indigenous people on the property of the shuttered RCMP detachment on Stafford Drive South.

The shelter, consisting of a teepee and tents, was opened Sunday and will remain “as long as we can, said SAGE Clan leader Mark Brave Rock on Monday.

The shelter was opened after the closure of an emergency warming shelter at the Sik-Ooh-Kotoki Friendship Centre. That facility, according to a release from the City of Lethbridge cited in a Herald story last week, has transitioned clients to the Alpha House shelter.

Brave Rock said the model for Calgary-based organization, which was established in 1981,  does not work here in Lethbridge.

When asked by City bylaw officer Dave Henley if SAGE Clan had gotten permission from the property’s owners to be set up at the former RCMP station, Brave Rock said he hadn’t and Henley told him the society will need to get a permit if his organization moves into city parks with the shelters.

Several people were sleeping in the encampment Monday, Brave Rock said.

“That organization, a foreign organization, they’re not from Lethbridge,” he said referring to Alpha House.

“It’s just like the white man is a foreign people that came here and now they’ve pulled the same thing. The first thing I told the City was ‘you don’t bring a Calgary organization, bring their system and run it here. This is not Calgary. This is Lethbridge. This is unique,” said Brave Rock.

“No study was done as to the influence of those Indians all across that river. They have a great influence, everything, even monetarily. Lethbridge would not have the income if it wasn’t for the Blood Tribe,” said Brave Rock.

He alleged Alpha House is not properly helping Indigenous clients.

“It has to be accepted and I accept it, too, that you cannot bring drugs in there and you cannot bring weapons in there, anything that can harm each other because people are under the influence. I agree with that.

“However, the major thing, the major major thing is they are not helping our people to sober up. They are perpetuating the continuation of the traumas” Indigenous people have experienced in their lives, Brave Rock said.

A SAGE Clan member read out a statement to Henley and The Herald at the site.

In that statement, the member said “this is a peaceful awareness campaign to bring awareness to the treatment of the homeless Indigenous population in the City of Lethbridge which has had a complete disregard over the fact that the City resides on traditional Blackfoot land. Yet our Indigenous people are the ones who are treated like they were not from this land.

“Our goal of this campaign is to take control of our own people’s healing in every aspect of the word. This can include an Indigenous-run detox, a homeless shelter or more Indigenous people in the roles of trustees. We have relied on the western approach for far too long” she said, with “very little results. It is time that Indigenous people help heal Indigenous people” from their experience “of homelessness, addiction and recovery. Our approach will incorporate the traditional and cultural teachings that have been passed down from our traditional knowledge keepers, our elders. Our approach will provide more results much faster.

“We had so much success over at that shelter” the member said of the Friendship Centre.

“This is what we’re here for. All that stuff that happened at that overflow shelter proved so much success in our people. How loved they felt, how welcomed they felt, how they were treated, that they were treated with dignity, they were human.”

Mark Brave Rock said of the people who used that shelter five people went to detox and one to treatment.

It was claimed another was scheduled to go to detox on Tuesday but he froze to death after the shelter was closed.

“All we’re doing is providing a warm place” for the homeless, the SAGE Clan said.

By press-time the RCMP had not responded for comment about the temporary shelter’s location at the closed detachment.

Alpha House hadn’t responded to a request for comments about its operations, either.

The City bylaw officer attended the site after getting emails asking him to find out what was going on.

Brave Rock said the people using the temporary shelter weren’t allowed to use drugs and there was security on site.

“We are advocating for the homeless,” he told Henley, repeating his concern that Alpha House isn’t from Lethbridge.

He also said the SAGE Clan would prefer to deal with the City rather than city police.

“The city police are part of the problem, too, not dealing with our people properly,” Brave Rock told Henley.

“I would rather speak to you people, more level-headed. The police are not, towards us they are not. So we don’t appreciate them at all. We will speak with whoever is level-headed to move or not, not the police,” Brave Rock said.

“These street people have a complaint, we can document, we have documented it and we will against officers and their treatment toward us. That’s why we don’t want city police, we don’t want them involved with us at all because they’re going to escalate things worse,” added Brave Rock.

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The rhetoric spewed by Mr Braverock [ yes Mark, racism is not a product of skin color but of mindset ] and his repeated degradation of the efforts of anyone other than his own agency [ which has been assisted, accomodated and in the eyes of some overly tolerated ] does a great disservice to his cause. Perhaps in apprortioning “blame” Mr. Braverock might consider his being ” part of the problem too “. I have not a shadow of doubt what would happen if I ” set up camp” on the RCMP grounds and exhibited the attitude of Mr Braverock. Equal treatment mandates these tresspassers be given a window to leave or be evicted and thier encampment hauled away.
The Sage Clan needs to consider it’s own “level headed ” nature and if IT’S actions are ” going to escalate things worse”.


Very good

Last edited 2 years ago by justneedtosee

Citizens who observe are wondering why the doors to the Sik-Ooh- Kotoki building was not opened for their homeless freezing brethren, a fire pit outside of the building was not suitable, then again they dump these poor freezing souls kicked off the reserve, but this society a number of cars not seen before maybe to put their brethren in to keep them warm, made it look like it was a lot of people standing around the fire but not their freezing brethren, no, they were not allowed on the property. Begs a question the federal govt paid for this building who pays the yearly operating costs, the Society?, I doubt it, let us see a financial statement, maybe the society should be kicked out,. get us the answers so we can hold court.
There was-a native women’s transition home on 7 street north(former church) how many of these homeless native women get in there or must you be “special”class. The city council of the day authorized aI million-dollar loan to help fund have. not seen when it was the paid.
The Sik-Ooh- Kotoki society ruthless should be kicked out and the building turned into a native homeless shelter to help those poor freezing souls.


Good point

Seth Anthony

According to the mayor, there is plenty of room at the main shelter.

Last edited 2 years ago by Seth Anthony

It seems to me that the RCMP has camped on Blackfoot land without permission. Maybe it’s time to return the favour?

For many of the commentators who are sensitive about being considered racist, maybe the best approach would be to stop saying racist things. Good indicators are ‘us/them’ pronouns. Another involves gross generalizations about a group based on the behaviours of individuals.

lethbridge local

You might also find that constantly calling people racist and telling everyone you disagree with to “get off your land” also isn’t helpful… at some point the blood tribe needs to stop trying to blame Lethbridge for its own issues. Lethbridge has shown time and time again it wants to help but unfortunately we don’t control the source of this issue we are just left dealing with the aftermath.

Seth Anthony

Constructive criticism and valid questions are replied to with the racist card. This despite nothing said that is even remotely racist. Ditto with the replies to Bremner’s original letter. How typical.

When people claim racism, despite no evidence of racism, it begs the question: Are they projecting their own racism?

Last edited 2 years ago by Seth Anthony

These ‘issues’ are our issues. Together.

Regarding racism I would set a higher standard of propriety on the privileged. Just read some of these comments – just because a group of carers set up a tent behind an unoccupied building to keep people from freezing to death (and, sure, maybe draw a little attention to issues of addiction and homelessness).

Seth Anthony

The shelter has plenty of room, why aren’t they going there?

Also, you said, maybe draw a little attention to issues of addiction and homelessness”.

-facepalm- Uh huh. Because we aren’t all well aware of it already.


Give your reading finger some exercise and read IMO’s referenced article below. It might help you understand ‘Why’.

Seth Anthony

Go ahead and tell me in your words, while specifically using Lethbridge’s facilities as examples.


I’taamohkanoohsin (everyone comes together): (Re)connecting Indigenous people experiencing homelessness and addiction to their Blackfoot ways of knowing.