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Blackfoot Summit brings community together

​Encouraging community-based dialogue around what culture means through the lenses of Blackfoot and other Indigenous peoples who call Sikoohkotok (Lethbridge) home continues to be an important topic.

Last month at Casa, several departments came together to host the Blackfoot Cultural Thought Leader Summit – with a goal of helping to guide cultural planning and policy development at the City of Lethbridge, as well as help direct the ways Indigenous Peoples are represented in public spaces, places and policies.

The projects engaged on include: Civic Culture Plan, Heritage Management Plan, Indigenous Placemaking Strategy and Public Realm Audit.

The event, which had about 40 people in attendance, including Elders, Indigenous cultural thought leaders, cultural programmers and City staff, was a collaboration between three City departments: Indigenous Relations (Perry Stein), Planning and Design (Ross Kilgour) and Recreation and Culture (Jillian Bracken).

This project demonstrated partnership excellence across the organization but also the notion of getting our consultants to work well together.

"The Blackfoot Cultural Thought Leader Summit was a great way of breaking down corporate silos, and allowed us to capture and share data and perspectives from community partners across multiple projects," says Stein. "It lessened the burden on our partners, and amplified their voice to have impact across multiple projects simultaneously."

In the fall, staff identified that their projects had several points of intersection and considered the opportunity to host a joint engagement session with Indigenous community cultural thought leaders in order to:

  • Minimize the burden of being engaged on multiple projects in a short period of time
  • Re-position Indigenous peoples as policy advocates, architects and thought leaders, rather than policy recipients and audiences
  • Create a space for the points of intersection between the projects to grow and develop in real time

The Summit involved a morning of presentations from Blackfoot and other Indigenous cultural thought leaders, including Dr. Leroy Little Bear, Faye and Hali Heavy Shield, Camina Weasel Moccasin and Sandra Lamouche, as well as opening remarks from Elder Mike Bruised Head.

The afternoon featured a panel discussion, facilitated by Katie Jo Rabbit, as well as project-specific workshop activities facilitated by our consultants.