LETHBRIDGE - The inaugural Reconciliation Week in Lethbridge began with ceremony and the announcement of a new scholarship.
Dignitaries and elders began the day Tuesday, Sept. 19 with a traditional pipe offering before presenting remarks in the City Hall foyer, followed by a flag raising and a walk to the Galt Museum, events organized by Reconciliation Lethbridge.
"Reconciliation Lethbridge is our response to the 94 calls to action that were put out almost two years ago," explained co-chair Amanda Scout, who works with Native Counselling Services of Alberta. "We were looking at those and doing a community plan, and how we're going to address them. At the same time the city was doing their response, and looking at how they were going to do it.
"So somehow we all got together and we've done it as a partnership. That's kind of unique, and we are one of the first municipalities that have an actual implementation plan, to address the calls to action."
She said the first year will focus on awareness and education.
During the event, a new scholarship program was announced for the University of Lethbridge in partnership with Robert and Priscilla Janes. Graduate and undergraduate students from the Blackfoot Confederacy who contribute to and participate in their culture and heritage will be eligible for the awards.
The awards are named for Narcisse (Tatsikiistamik “Middle Bull”) Blood, Gerald (Sikapiistamix “Grey Bull”) Conaty, Allan (Mi’kskimmiisoka’simii “Iron Shirt”) Pard, and Frank (Miiksskim “Iron”) Weasel Head. The four men worked closely with Dr. Janes, former president and CEO of the Glenbow Museum. During his time there Janes helped build a relationship of trust with the Four Nations of the Blackfoot Confederacy, and worked to return sacred objects.
Also as part of the event, Roy Pogorzelski, the city's Inclusion Consultant, was honoured with a traditional Blackfoot name meaning "honourable man."
Scout said the leadership being shown by the city is important.
"Everyone has a part to play in reconciliation. But when it's coming from the top it really helps a lot."
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