Community celebrates Blackfoot Winter Solstice
It’s a day full of celebration, storytelling and community as the Cavendish Farms Centre hosts the inaugural Blackfoot Winter Solstice. The celebration recognizes and pays respect to the Blackfoot community in the form of a dedicated Indigenous art display and ceremony with local Indigenous leaders.
Winter Solstice occurs every year on December 21, marking the shortest day of the year. In Blackfoot culture, traditional ceremonies pay tribute and record the solstice history as a Winter Count.
“During Winter Solstice, we are acknowledging and respecting the coming home of the sun,” says Elder Ninnaa Piiksii Mike Bruised Head. “It’s an honourable and sacred time to the Blackfoot people.”
A Winter Count is a historical record written on an animal hide using paint and pictographs capturing environmental details and significant events. Renowned Indigenous artist Api’ soomaahka William Singer III will be the painter and recorder for this year’s Winter Count.
“The Winter Solstice celebration is an opportunity for the community to come together and connect with Blackfoot culture and traditions,” says Jennie Sudo, Recreation and Culture Partnership Strategist. “It’s also a really great way to learn something new about the changing of the seasons and get together with friends and family.”
Artist Api' soomaahka William Singer III creates the Winter Count.
The schedule of events today includes:
- 10 a.m. Introduction & Smudging – Elder Ninnaa Piiksii Mike Bruised Head will give a traditional Blackfoot smudge.
- 10:15 a.m. Winter Count - Discover the tradition behind a Winter Count. This physical, historical record is illustrated on animal hide and captures environmental details and significant events. Renowned Indigenous artist, Api’ soomaahka William Singer, III is the painter and recorder for this year’s Winter Count.
- 10:30 a.m. Storytelling - Elder Ninnaa Piiksii Mike Bruised Head, Blackfoot Knowledge Keeper, shares enchanting stories of the Winter Solstice, highlighting meaning, significance, and purpose.
- 11 a.m. Round Dance - Join the circular hand-holding dance, fostering friendship and peace among all attendees.
- 11:15 a.m. Free Open Skating - The west arena opens for free public open skating, symbolizing traditional games during the Winter Solstice celebration.
All residents and visitors are welcome to join the celebrations on the second-floor mezzanine of the Cavendish Farms Centre throughout the day’s events.