A private Blackfoot blessing ceremony will be held June 21 to celebrate the completion of the Southeast Area Structure Plan.
The blessing ceremony will take place on National Aboriginal Day and will offer thanks to Blackfoot ancestors as well as prayers and good wishes for the future residents and businesses of Southeast Lethbridge as well as those who will visit the area.
"The Southeast Area Structure Plan is the strongest example to date in the City of Lethbridge of Blackfoot traditional knowledge being investigated and incorporated into a planning project. Doing so allowed us to uncover a rich tapestry of oral history that could then be integrated into the future landscape of our city," says Perry Stein, Community Planner with the City of Lethbridge. "This is another example of what we think reconciliation looks like in action. The more we acknowledge, respect and involve our Blackfoot neighbours in the evolution of our community and the narration of our shared history, the better off we all are."
The Southeast Area Structure Plan, adopted by City Council on May 16 this year, lays out the vision for future growth and development in Southeast Lethbridge for the next several decades. As part of the Southeast project, a Traditional Knowledge Assessment was completed to better understand the presence of Indigenous traditional use sites in the areas around Six Mile Coulee. The Traditional Knowledge Assessment was complete by local Blackfoot Elders and Arrow Archaeology, and highlighted the importance of Six Mile Coulee as a place rich in meaning to the Blackfoot people.
Six Mile Coulee was a place for hunting and collecting native plant and animal species, and was an important entry point into the larger Oldman River valley system. The Assessment also resulted in six recommendations for identifying and celebrating the presence of Blackfoot people in this region for many thousands of years, including hosting an on-site blessing ceremony once the plan was adopted by City Council.
Following the Assessment's recommendations, the Southeast Area Structure Plan envisions the areas adjacent to Six Mile Coulee as open space for the benefit and use of all residents and visitors to Lethbridge. This also ensures the impact of development on the Coulee is minimized. The Plan also identifies a future Blackfoot Interpretive Park above Six Mile Coulee to showcase Blackfoot traditional knowledge and land stewardship practices.
Perry Stein, Community Planner