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Oki and welcome to the lands of the Blackfoot people

​The conversation around truth and reconciliation continues today at the City of Lethbridge as we publicly launch a land acknowledgement video, Oki & Welcome.

This welcome to territory piece is now available via the City's YouTube channel as a resource for the community. The purpose of the video is to welcome people and acknowledge the traditional land the city is located on.

"Many non-Indigenous organizations have implemented territorial or land acknowledgements; their purpose is re-teaching the colonial claim to land, but these statements cannot be the endpoint," says Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee (RLAC) member, Marcia Black Water. "For this area of Siksikaissksahko (Blackfoot land), fundamental to reconciliation is that land holds the preservation, growth and sustainability of language and culture. Iikaiskini, Leroy Little Bear, will remind us that all things are animate and therefore their spirit constantly exists. When talking about land, in the case of Lethbridge, when we greet each other with Oki, we welcome the spirit that holds the true narratives of this land and the people."

This goal of this creative endeavor is to increase awareness, education and conversation in the spirit of truth and reconciliation within the City and the community says City of Lethbridge Indigenous Relations Advisor, Perry Stein.

"We hope this piece is really embraced by our community," says Stein. "It can be used a resource to welcome folks to your organization, before events and conferences and even used during everyday meetings to help spark the conversation around reconciliation."

Guiding the creation of the Oki video was one of many collaborative processes with Indigenous partners which speaks to the importance of engagement processes with Blackfoot thought-leaders and knowledge-keepers across the city, says Community Arts & Culture Manager, Jillian Bracken.

 "Today we're hosting a Blackfoot Cultural Thought Leader Summit which is an opportunity to bring together community-based cultural thought leaders to have conversations about what culture means through the lenses of Blackfoot and Indigenous peoples who call Sikoohkotok (Lethbridge) home," says Bracken.

The outcomes of the summit will help to inform four ongoing City cultural planning projects;

  • Culture Plan;
  • Heritage Management Plan;
  • Indigenous Placemaking Strategy and Public Realm Audit; and
  • Indigenous Cultural Centre.

"The demographics and realities of Indigenous peoples in the City of Lethbridge are diverse," says Black Water. "Lethbridge extends beyond its city limits. For local Blackfoot communities, especially Kainai and Piikani Nations, there is high frequency to commute to Lethbridge - to live, to work, for choice education, to visit family, to access shopping and services."

Residents, businesses, community organizations and media partners are invited to watch and use the Oki land acknowledgement video here.

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