On September 16, 2019, the City of Lethbridge adopted oki as the official City greeting. Oki is the Blackfoot word for greetings or hello.
By adopting oki as the official greeting, the City of Lethbridge proudly acknowledges the language, culture and heritage of the Blackfoot peoples, and all Indigenous peoples who call Lethbridge home, as we continue to foster reconciliation and healing.
The City has a mobile oki sign that is available to be displayed at events or by local organizations or businesses for a period of time. The oki sign was recently displayed at the downtown Lethbridge Bank of Montreal branch, for example.
Jynelle Warnke, Personal Banker with the downtown BMO branch, had heard about the mobile sign and brought the idea of displaying it at the branch to her manager's attention. The branch wanted to show support for Lethbridge and the Indigenous community, and thought the oki sign and other City materials would support this initiative.
"Our BMO branch has changed the way we do community involvement," says Warnke. "We want to work directly with community partners and build equity for all community members."
"The oki sign generated excitement around the branch," says Betty Fieguth, downtown BMO branch manager. "Staff were excited to hand out flags and information cards, and customers were asking questions about what oki means and were excited and interested to learn more."
Fieguth and Warnke encourage other businesses to host the oki sign at their locations. They thought the oki sign was a great conversation starter and can help businesses participate in a more open conversation.
"The oki sign brings a community together in sharing a part of reconciliation," says Echo Nowak, Indigenous Relations Specialist with the City of Lethbridge. "It starts a dialogue between two cultures and in that conversation creates a bridge of connection and understanding."
Prior to the mobile oki sign being displayed at the downtown BMO branch, it was set up at the Costco Lethbridge location in December.
To check availability if you are interested in having the mobile oki sign at your business or event, please contact Nowak at firstname.lastname@example.org or 403-382-9947.