Lethbridge College Indigenous Services helps Indigenous students get access to academic, career and cultural support.
The City of Lethbridge is committed to building partnerships with Indigenous communities by acknowledging historical erasure, reconciling relationships and removing barriers to ensure our goals align with the values and perspectives of local Indigenous communities.
The City of Lethbridge acknowledges that we are gathered on the lands of the Blackfoot people of the Canadian Plains and pays respect to the Blackfoot people past, present and future while recognizing and respecting their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship to land. The City of Lethbridge is also home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.
Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee
The Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee works alongside local indigenous communities to promote understanding and support for the urban Indigenous community and the relationship with the Blackfoot Confederacy and Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.
Events and activities
The Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee hosts a variety of local events and activities to promote truth and reconciliation in our community and honour Indigenous history, art and culture. View the Reconciliation Lethbridge Facebook page to find and learn about upcoming events.
Reconciliation Week 2023
Reconciliation Week begins on September 25 and to celebrate this occasion, there are events and activities planned by several organizations from around the city.
The opening ceremony will be held at the Civic Track, located behind City Hall, on Monday, September 25 at 10 a.m. All members of the community are invited to attend to hear from officials and community organizations. See the full events calendar here.
Community contacts and resources
There are several organization and Indigenous community contacts that offer resources, counselling and education. Explore the different contacts available in the area and learn more about the services they provide.
The following organizations in and around Lethbridge offer resources, support and education:
Lethbridge Friendship Centre provides support services to urban Indigenous people in Lethbridge to help them cope with the urban environment and the challenges it brings.
Lethbridge Indigenous Sharing Network aims to strengthen the voice of Indigenous peoples with key stakeholders and promote collaboration at the local level.
Native Counselling Services of Alberta provides legal support to help Indigenous people across the province navigate legal and court procedures and receive fair and equitable treatment.
Opokaa’sin Early Intervention Society supports Indigenous families, children and youth through a variety of programs and services.
Red Crow Community College offers traditional teaching and a curriculum designed to meet the needs of the Niitsitapi and beyond.
Saamis Employment and Training Association provides career training and employment opportunities with job boards and fairs.
University of Lethbridge Indigenous Student Affairs helps connect self-identified Indigenous students to academic, cultural, financial, health and well-being resources.
The Indigenous Relations Office and Reconciliation Advisory Committee work alongside individuals and organizations from across the community to advance reconciliation and foster meaningful relationships with Indigenous peoples and communities. Learn more about recent reconciliation initiatives.
In 2021, Council approved additional governance and site planning work to create an Indigenous Cultural Centre as part of the 2022 to 2031 Capital Improvement Program after conducting a Feasibility Study and creating a Governance Guide. We also received funding from the Government of Canada's Cultural Spaces Fund in 2021 for this project.
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
We are developing the Indigenous Legacy Commemoration Project 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.
We have gathered expressions of interest from Indigenous artists for this project.
Lethbridge and the Kainai/Blood Tribe share an eight-kilometer border in the southwest of the City, along the Napitahtaa (Oldman River). We are also 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. As Lethbridge is located within Siksikaitsitapi (Blackfoot Confederacy) territory, our communities are connected through a shared past, present and future.
The Memoranda of Respect, Understanding and Partnership (MOU) identifies areas of mutual interest and concern to both communities. It creates more structure around how the parties work together and ensures that each other's interests are considered when making important decisions. Stronger communications and shared understanding helps us to better understand and reflect the needs of Blackfoot and other Indigenous peoples in our plans, policies, programs and services.
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 Committees to advance planning and advocacy in each area. Working Committees will report bi-annually to joint meetings of the Councils.
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 our response to the National Inquiry and includes a series of recommendations guided by the following principles, which we developed with community partners:
- Avoid tokenism and activities that minimize or make superficial the findings of the National Inquiry
- Clearly communicate how the protection of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples benefits all Lethbridge citizens
- Create a commitment to capacity building for Indigenous peoples, including Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples
- Create opportunities for and empower allyship
- Embrace local knowledge, history and expertise
- Ensure a long-term commitment to learning by elected leadership and staff and providing educational resources
- Ensure the voices of those persons identified in the Calls continue to be heard and involved in the implementation of recommendations
- Honour publically the Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples who have been victims to violence, as well as their families
The 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. View a summary of the work plan and view a video about the work plan’s goals to learn more.
2019 was the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages. To promote greater use and respect for the Blackfoot language in Lethbridge, the Heart of our City Committee (HOC) and the Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee implemented the following initiatives:
- Oki, the Blackfoot word for "greetings," became the City's official greeting on September 16, 2019
- The HOC and RLAC Committees created 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 by phoning 311.
- We created a resource to help you learn basic Blackfoot vocabulary
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Call to Action number 47 urges all levels of government to better recognize the long-standing presence of Indigenous peoples within their traditional territories.
Reconciliation and land use planning means 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. View our recent projects and plan updates to include Indigenous voices and perspectives in our land use plans and processes:
- Traditional Knowledge and Land Use Assessment – this 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) – we updated the committee’s terms of reference to include dedicated representation from the Indigenous community
- Municipal Development Plan (MDP) – recent updates relied on Indigenous community engagement to include historical context and the contributions of Indigenous peoples to its future. Updates also included 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 – updates incorporated meaningful consideration of Indigenous cultural heritage.
- Public Realm Audit – we reviewed all City-owned public realm assets to assess their names through the lenses of truth, reconciliation and inclusion
- Transportation Master Plan (TMP) – we engaged diverse community partners, including Indigenous peoples, to understand transportation barriers and opportunities
- The video commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of the Belly River (also known as the Blackfoot - Cree Battle of 1870) helps provide historical context for the land in our community
We are continually exploring how to incorporate the languages, cultures and stories of Blackfoot and other Indigenous Peoples into public spaces throughout the community. We call this work "Indigenous Placemaking".
There are several Indigenous placemaking projects that showcase the works of talented Indigenous artists and knowledge keepers within our community, including the:
- Fire Station #5 Mural – Hali Heavy Shield was selected as the artist to install a powerful mural on the front of our newest Fire Station. Alongside this mural, the work of Rudy Black Plume is adorning one of our new pumper trucks
- Utility Box Wrapping Project – in 2021, several utility boxes downtown were wrapped in artwork by Hali Heavy Shield and Rudy Black Plume, both from the Kainai Nation
- Indigenous Landscape Design – we are working with Blackfoot artists Marjie Crop Eared Wolf to engage Kainai Elders and learn more about traditional ecological knowledge, which we can apply to different landscaping projects around the City as a way to reflect Blackfoot Territory and the relationship between the Blackfoot peoples and the land. You can experience this connection as you walk along the regional pathway alongside Great Bear Boulevard West
- Blackfoot Confederacy Flag at City Hall – In September 2021, we raised the Siksikaitsitapi (Blackfoot Confederacy) and Reconciliation Lethbridge flags at City Hall. This 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, as well as our commitment to truth and reconciliation
Our Reconciliation Annual Report summarizes the accomplishments of the Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee to advance truth, reconciliation and the development of meaningful relationships in our communities. View the 2021 Reconciliation Annual Report to learn more about the work being done in our community.
The Reconciliation Implementation Plan illustrates the ongoing collaboration between the City and Indigenous community serving organizations. Guided by a series of principles, the plan represents our response the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's calls to action. The guiding principles include:
- Active participation
- Communication and public awareness
- Cultural identity and heritage
- Service provision
The plan contains municipal and community-led actions that address topics such as language, heritage, justice, wellness, education, awareness and advocacy. The actions in the plan are led by the Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee (RLAC) with the support of the Indigenous Relations Office.
The City and the Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee have worked with our community partners to develop toolkits and resources to help residents, businesses and community organizations 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). Learn more about how you can incorporate allyship in your personal and professional life.
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.