The City of Lethbridge is proud to share the accomplishments of the Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee and other City efforts to advance truth, reconciliation and the development of meaningful relationships.
2021 marks the first year that the City has released a Reconciliation Annual Report. We invite you to learn more about our work in the community by reading the document.
The City of Lethbridge & Lethbridge Indigenous Sharing Network Reconciliation Implementation Plan 2017 – 2027, or the Reconciliation Implementation Plan, is the outcome of strong, on-going collaboration between the City of Lethbridge and Indigenous community serving organizations. Guided by a series of Principles, the Plan represents the City's response the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's Calls to Action. The Guiding Principles include:
- Active Participation
- Communication and Public Awareness
- Service Provision
- Cultural Identity & Heritage
The Reconciliation Implementation Plan contains municipal and community-led actions that address topics such as language, heritage, justice, wellness, education, awareness and advocacy. The fulfillment of actions in the plan are a joint responsibility of the Community and City, and is led by the Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee (RLAC) with the support of the Indigenous Relations Office.
The National inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was launched in 2015 to investigate and report on "systemic causes of all forms of violence against Indigenous women and girls," including social, economic, cultural, institutional, legislative and other causes. In 2019, the National Inquiry released its final report and 231 Calls for Justice.
The MMIWG Recommendations and Work Plan represents the City of Lethbridge's response to the National Inquiry and includes a series of recommendations guided by the following principles, which were co-develop with community partners.
- Create a commitment to capacity building for Indigenous peoples, including Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples.
- Avoid tokenism and activities that minimize or make superficial the findings of the National Inquiry
- Honour publically the Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples who have been victims to violence, and their families
- Create opportunities for, and empower allyship
- Clearly communicate how the protection of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples benefits all Lethbridge citizens
- Ensure a long-term commitment of resources and to learning by elected leadership and staff
- Embrace local knowledge, history and expertise
- Ensure the voices of those persons identified in the Calls continue to be heard and involved in the implementation of recommendations
The City's work plan includes 25 recommendations and a series of projects aimed at addressing social, economic, cultural and institutional barriers facing Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples in our community.
Work Plan Summary
Full Work Plan
The City of Lethbridge and Kainai / Blood Tribe share an approximately 8 kilometer border in the southwest of the City, along the Napitahtaa (Oldman River). The connections, however, between our two communities are much more extensive. Lethbridge and Kainai / Blood Tribe are linked by a shared environment, by mutually benefiting economies and by the educational, social, cultural and other services that residents, members and visitors rely on each day. Importantly as well, as Lethbridge is located within Siksikaitsitapi (Blackfoot Confederacy) territory, our communities are connected through a shared past, present and future.
In May 2021, the Councils of the City of Lethbridge and Kainai / Blood Tribe signed a Memoranda of Respect, Understanding and Partnership (MOU) that identifies areas of mutual interest and concern to both communities. The MOU creates a formalized structure to strengthen the ability of the Councils and Administrations to work more closely together for the benefit of both communities.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the MOU?
In simple terms, the Memoranda of Respect, Understanding and Partnership, or MOU, is an agreement between the City of Lethbridge and Kainai / Blood Tribe that commits the Councils and Administrations to work more closely together and meet more frequently.
The MOU identifies four areas of mutual interest and concern (Health and Wellness; Economic Development and Employment; Community Planning; and Communications) and describes the creation of joint Working Committee to advance planning and advocacy in each area.
Who is the agreement between?
The MOU is an agreement between The City of Lethbridge Mayor and Council and Kainai / Blood Tribe Chief and Council.
What intent of the MOU?
The purpose of the MOU is to establish stronger communications, planning and opportunities for joint advocacy between the City of Lethbridge and Kainai / Blood Tribe to advance issue of common interest and resolve issues of common concern. This work is intended to improve the social and economic wellbeing of both communities.
What does the MOU mean for City residents and Nation members?
When neighbouring communities strive for stronger communication, coordination, planning and advocacy, ultimately it is the residents and members of those communities who benefit. The MOU creates more structure around how the parties work together and ensures that each other's interests are considered when making important decisions.
Does the MOU impact any other agreements, legislation or Treaties that the parties are signatories to?
The MOU does not impact any other agreement, legislation or Treaty that the City or Nation may be party to.
How will the MOU be implemented?
The MOU is implemented through joint Working Committees with representation from the City of Lethbridge and Kainai / Blood Tribe Administrations. Working Committees will report bi-annually to joint meetings of the Councils.
How does the MOU advance reconciliation and relationship-building?
The MOU is guided by the values of respect, understanding and strong communications and endeavors to ensure that the perspectives of each party are considered on projects where there are anticipated shared interests, be they social, cultural, environmental or economic.
The MOU is an important step in the strengthening of relationships between the City of Lethbridge and Kainai / Blood Tribe, as it ensures there are more regular communications at the levels of Council and Administration.
Stronger communications and shared understanding enhance the ability of the City to better understand and reflect the needs of Blackfoot and other Indigenous peoples in its plans, policies, programs and services.
What topics are covered by the MOU?
The MOU identifies four areas of mutual interest and cooperation:
- Health and Wellness (including Housing, Education, Justice, Racism and Discrimination)
- Economic Development and Employment
- Community Planning (including Land Use Planning, the Environment, Cultural Resources Management and Emergency Response), and
The MOU also describes mechanisms to enhance communications, which will ensure areas of mutual interest and cooperation are acted upon.
The purpose of the Indigenous Legacy Commemoration Project is to honor the victims, survivors and families who have been impacted by the residential school system and the tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The City is currently working with Blackfoot artist Hali Heavy Shield to engage with local and regional Indigenous communities in the Fall of 2021 to better understand their aspirations for the ways in which these acts of genocide are commemorated in Lethbridge.
A project Facebook page will be created in September 2021 to help community members stay up to date on the project.
Stay tuned for more information.
2019 was the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages. To celebrate that year, and to promote greater use and respect for the Blackfoot language the City of Lethbridge, the Heart of our City Committee (HOC) and the Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee (RLAC) unveiled different initiatives.
- Official City Greeting: Oki, the Blackfoot word for "greetings," became the City's Official Greeting on September 16, 2019. Visit our City Identity page to learn more.
- Oki Project: The HOC and RLAC Committees partners to create a moveable "OKI" sign to celebrate this Blackfoot Greeting and showcase Blackfoot language and culture throughout the City. If your organization would like to request the sign for your event, please contact the Indigenous Relations Office.
- Oki Postcard: The City of Lethbridge has also produced a resource to help you learn about reconciliation and basic Blackfoot vocabulary.
To learn more about the International Year of Indigenous Languages, click here.
The City of Lethbridge and Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee have worked with our community partners to develop toolkits and resources to help residents, businesses and community organizations to begin, or continue on their reconciliation journey.
Reconciliation Ally Toolkit
The Ohkanaomowoo Sikóóhkotok | Gathering in Lethbridge Toolkit provides an overview of Blackfoot Territory and history, and introduces the concept of Nitákkaawa | Allyship. We invite you to download the Toolkit and learn more about how you can incorporate allyship in your personal and profession lives.
The Protecting Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit+ people in Sikóóhkotok | City of Lethbridge Toolkit introduces traditional concepts of family and community life for Niitsitapiiaakiiks (Blackfoot Women), Saipáí’tapiiaakiiks (Indigenous, Non-Blackfoot Women) and Two-Spirit+ people. The Toolkit features actions that individuals, businesses and the media can take to help support Indigenous women and gender diverse people in our community. We invite you to download the toolkit and learn more.
For many years, the idea of creating an Indigenous Cultural Centre in Lethbridge has been raised by community partners. In 2017, Lethbridge City Council provided funding to conduct a Feasibility Study through the Capital Improvement Program. The focus of this Study was to create shared understanding within the community about the focus, users, governance and operations of a possible future Indigenous Cultural Centre in Lethbridge.
A central component to the Feasibility Study was a community visioning conference hosted over two days in 2019. To conference presentations can be accessed here.
The results of the Feasibility Study were presented to City Council in 2020.
A subsequent report was also prepared that described aspects of governance for an Indigenous Cultural Centre. The Governance Guide presented a model based upon the Niitsitapi values as described by Red Crow Community College Elders. Those values include:
- Aatsimmoiyihkanni – Spirituality
- Kimmapiiypitsinni - Kindness to others
- Niitisitapiiysinni- To be Blackfoot
- Ihpipototsp - Purpose for being there
- Aksistoiypaittapiisinni - Being able to take on tasks independently
- Isspomaanitapiiysinni - Being helpful to others
- Aoahkannaistokawa - Everything comes in pairs (balance)
- Pommotsiiyysinni - To transfer something to others (knowledge, etc.)
- Ihkanaitapstiwa - Everything that is given to a person to do
- Innakotsiiysinni - Respect for others
- Kakyosin - Be aware of your environment, be observant
In 2021, Lethbridge City Council approved additional governance and site planning work to advance the Indigenous Cultural Centre as part of the 2022 – 2031 Capital Improvement Program. Also in 2021, the City received funding from the Government of Canada's Canada Cultural Spaces Fund. These next stages of governance and site planning will commence in the Fall of 2021. Please contact the Indigenous Relations Office for more information.
ICC Feasibility Study Final Report
ICC Governance Guide
Each year during the third week of September, the Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee and community partners host a week of events to promote reconciliation in Lethbridge. In 2021, the 5th Annual Reconciliation Week will be held between September 20 and 24, with events taking place throughout the month of September.
Click here to view the 2021 Reconciliation Week poster and calendar of events.
NOTE THAT MANY
OF THE IN-PERSON EVENTS PLANNED FOR RECONCILIATION WEEK HAVE BEEN
CANCELLED. PLEASE CONTACT THE EVENT ORGANIZER TO CONFIRM THE LATEST EVENT DETAILS.
To see previous year's events, see the links below:
Since 2015, the City of Lethbridge has sought to include greater voice and representation from Indigenous peoples and Communities into land use planning and heritage projects.
This is partly a response to provincially-led regional planning initiatives that encourage greater partnerships with Indigenous Communities, as well as being a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Call to Action #47. Call to Action #47 urges all levels of government to better recognize the long-standing presence of Indigenous peoples within their traditional territories, thereby repudiating concepts such as the Doctrine of Discovery and Terra Nullius.
Reconciliation and Land Use Planning at the City of Lethbridge has meant better understanding traditional land use and knowledge associated with the natural areas of our City and incorporating that knowledge and the voices of Indigenous peoples into the planning and heritage process. Recent projects include:
- Traditional Knowledge and Land Use Assessment: This innovative project brought together the three Alberta-based Blackfoot Confederacy Nations to create an inventory of traditional knowledge and land use sites within City-limits to better inform the land use planning process.
- Historic Places Advisory Committee (HPAC): Following the City's adoption of the Reconciliation Implementation Plan. the terms of reference of HPAC were updated to include dedicated representation from the Indigenous community.
- Municipal Development Plan (MDP): The MDP guides land use and growth decisions in the City for the next 20 to 40 years. As part of its most recent update in 2021, the MDP team relied upon extensive urban and regional Indigenous community engagement to strengthen the story told of Lethbridge's past and the contributions of Indigenous peoples to its future. The MDP also includes more specific considerations for reconciliation, relationship-building and Indigenous engagement going forward to ensure the City continues to be a leader in this area.
- Heritage Management Plan Update: The Heritage Management Plan (HMP) describes the framework that the City of Lethbridge uses to identify and converse places of historic significance in our City. The purpose of the HMP update is to respond to the City's Reconciliation Implementation Plan and incorporate meaningful consideration of Indigenous cultural heritage. Work will begin on this update in the Fall of 2021.
- Public Realm Audit: In Summer 2021 Lethbridge City Council directed a review of all City-owned public realm assets to assess their names through the lenses of truth, reconciliation and inclusion. Community engagement for this project will begin in the Fall of 2021 with recommendations presented to City Council in the first part of 2022.
- Transportation Master Plan (TMP): The TMP guides transportation infrastructure budgeting, planning and decision-making for the City looking 20 to 40 years into the future. The TMP team will engage many diverse community partners, including Indigenous peoples to understand barriers, opportunities and a vision for the way we get around our community now, and into the future.
The City of Lethbridge is also working to celebrate the stories of significant events and places in our community.
- 150th Anniversary of the Battle of the Belly River (also known as the Blackfoot - Cree Battle of 1870).
Starting in 2019 with the adoption of "Oki" as the Official Greeting of the City of Lethbridge, the City has begun to explore how to incorporate the languages, cultures and stories of Blackfoot and other Indigenous Peoples into public spaces throughout the community. We are calling this work "Indigenous Placemaking".
Placemaking is a concept that focusing on activating public spaces to bring community together, create a strong sense of connection between people and their communities, and often has the benefit of creating positive economic and social outcomes.
One way that Lethbridge is using placemaking is to advance reconciliation priorities, including greater reflection of the fact that Lethbridge is located in Blackfoot Territory.
A number of Indigenous placemaking projects are currently underway and showcase the works of talented Indigenous artists and knowledge keepers within our community.
- Fire Station #5 Mural: Hali Heavy Shield was selected as the artist to install a powerful mural on the front of Lethbridge's newest Fire Station in West Lethbridge. Alongside this mural, the work of Rudy Black Plume will be seen adorning one of the City's new pumper trucks based out of the Station.
- Utility Box Wrapping Project: In the Spring of 2021 a number of utility boxes in the Downtown were wrapped in artwork to bring some added vibrancy. Two of the prominently featured artists are Hali Heavy Shield and Rudy Black Plume, both from the Kainai Nation. Rudy's work is shown below.
- Indigenous Landscape Design: The City is working with Blackfoot artists Marjie Crop Eared Wolf to engage Kainai Elders and learn more about traditional ecological knowledge. This knowledge is then being applied to different landscaping projects around the City as a way of reflecting Blackfoot Territory and the relationship between the Blackfoot peoples and the land. You will soon be able to experience this connection as you walk along the regional pathway alongside Great Bear Blvd West.
- Blackfoot Confederacy Flag at City Hall: In September 2021, the City of Lethbridge proudly raised the Siksikaitsitapi (Blackfoot Confederacy) and Reconciliation Lethbridge flags at City Hall. Raising the Siksikaitsitapi flag is a visual reminder of Lethbridge's location at the heart of Blackfoot Territory and our growing relationships with the Kainai , Piikani and Siksika Nations. The Reconciliation Flag represents the City's commitment to truth and reconciliation including the Council approved Reconciliation Implementation Plan and MMIWG Recommendations and Work Plan.
In addition to these projects, the City is developing and Indigenous Placemaking Strategy with the help of Blackfoot artists, Elders, Knowledge Keepers and Youth. In early 2022 an implementation plan will be developed to direct future Indigenous Placemaking partnerships and opportunities.