July 17th, 2024

Blackfoot logo translates reconciliation in LPS values

By Lethbridge Herald on June 28, 2024.

Elder Morris Little Wolf, Ina Old Shoes, Trissly Blackwater, Chief Sahin Mehdizadeh and Regimental Sergeant Shawn Davis take part in the unveiling of the new logo for the Lethbridge Police Service on Friday at the police station. Herald photo by Alexandra Noad

Alexandra Noad – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Lethbridge Police Service has unveiled a logo commissioned to visually represent the organization’s values in the Blackfoot language.

The project was initiated by Trissly Blackwater, a summer student for the police service. She saw the values of the LPS every day and was reminded of her own Blackfoot values-Niisitapi.

“They teach us how to treat others and our surroundings within the community,” Blackwater said Friday during the unveiling at the police station. “And so basically what our Blackfoot values teach us is how to be a real person.”

The commission took two years to make and to be approved. Blackwater wanted to make sure things were done in the correct manner.

“We wanted to make sure that we were going in the right direction with things and that we weren’t overstepping anyone or making any mistake. So that’s why it took so long to get here,” Blackwater said.

Blackfoot is one of the oldest languages in the world. Because of this Blackwater had to consult Blackfoot Elders to come up with words to describe the values. Respect, Inakootsiiyssini; Courage, Ikitapiiysini; Accountablility, Aissstakataa; Collaboration, Issopomaanitapiiysini; and Professionalism, Okamotapotakssini.

In spring of 2023, a call-out for a Blackfoot artist enrolled in post-secondary was made. Blackwater says she wanted to have a Blackfoot Confederacy because for years her culture has been misinterpreted by outsiders.

Ina Old Shoes was selected from the call-out. She said she was surprised by the call-out given the stigma the police force has on the reserve. She said although she was excited, she was skeptical about the motives of the LPS.

“My emotions were conflicted. I was excited for the opportunity and angry, wondering if this was merely a media stunt or forced inclusion to improve the image without any real action for change,” said Old Shoes.

In her application Old Shoes voiced her concerns, but said she would like to be part of the project as long as it was a means for true reconciliation.

She said it was one of the hardest projects she has worked on because it needed to inspire both those in the police department and also those in the First Nations community.

Old Shoes chose the symbol of the pipe because when the Blackfoot people would have conflicts with other tribes they would hold a pipe ceremony to gain mutual respect and understanding for each other. Old shoes hopes this logo will help bridge the gap between First Nations and the LPS.

“My desire is that both parties see themselves as one of the two individuals seated in the logo, and that they will be inspired to renew their efforts to live their values and share their passion, not because of the logo, but because they seek genuine change.”

Deputy Chief Gerald Grobmeir said this is only one step of reconciliation.

“That symbol that you see today is going to throughout this building, so we see it all the time,” said Grobmeir.

The logo is displayed in the foyer of the police station and has been added to the community resource unit vehicle. It also will be included in service publications and other initiatives of the LPS.

The logo and more information on the values can be found at http://www.lethbridgepolice.com.

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