Welcome to Lethbridge College’s Niitsitapi Strategy
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about Lethbridge College’s Niitsitapi Strategy. This is an incredibly important marker in our ongoing journey to support our Indigenous students and the local Indigenous community.
It is a privilege to be located on the traditional lands of the Siksikaitsitapi (Blackfoot Confederacy) and it is our responsibility to honour and respect what that means. We must deepen our understanding of traditional cultures and ways of knowing, and we are committed to taking definitive action to support these communities. We must be leaders in implementing the actions of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. And we must support the education, including the Indigenization of our campus and curriculum, of our Indigenous learners and all people in our community.
This strategy is not the start of that work, but rather it is an extension and continuation of work we have been doing for many years. As proud signatories of Colleges and Institutes Canada’s Indigenous Education Protocol, we have committed to making Indigenous education a priority, establishing Indigenous-centred holistic support services and building relationships with our Indigenous communities. Being a part of this protocol has allowed us to work with and learn from colleagues across Canada, which has been invaluable.
This strategy will help to guide us in our work going forward and allow us to strive to meet the outcomes contained within. I recognize that achieving our college’s vision of leading and transforming education in Alberta is only possible when we truly engage and take action. It is the responsibility of all employees to do their part in working towards these outcomes.
I want to sincerely thank everyone who participated in the creation of this strategy. From our Indigenous Services and Student Affairs teams who provided the leadership to make this a reality, to everyone who provided input, both within and outside of our campus community, this strategy is the result of your time, expertise and passion.
Our college’s Blackfoot name is Ohkotoki’aahkkoiyiiniimaan, which means Stone Pipe. The offering of a stone pipe is a promise or a peace bond made with the honesty and integrity needed to fulfill the commitment. This strategy is our promise to our students, our college community and all Indigenous communities. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about it.
Dr. Paula Burns
Piita’gaaksiimaak (Eagle Whistle Woman)
Lethbridge College President and CEO
Acknowledgement to Siksikaitsitapi
Lethbridge College is located in the central area of lands traditionally occupied by Siksikaitsitapi, the Blackfoot Confederacy.
The natural borders of Blackfoot lands extended north to south from the North Saskatchewan River in Alberta and Saskatchewan to the Yellowstone River in the state of Montana, and east to west from the Great Sand Hills in the current province of Saskatchewan to the mountainous Continental Divide. Today, four nations make up the Blackfoot Confederacy or Siksikaitsitapi: the Apaitsitapi or Kainai (Blood Tribe), the Aapatohsipiikani or Piikani Nation and Siksika Nation located in southern Alberta, as well as the Ampskaapi’piikani or Blackfeet Tribe located in northern Montana.
With guidance from Kaahsinnooniiks, it is the intent of our college community to honour the land from a place of connection, Kakyosin, to become fully aware and truly recognize the knowledge encompassed of what it means to say we are on Blackfoot Territory. Our college has the honour of holding the Blackfoot name Ohkotoki’aahkoiyiiniimaan (Stone Pipe). Its meaning connects our place of learning to the land and to the promise and principle that the land sustains all.
As both the traditional and current Land Keepers of this area, the Blackfoot Nations have welcomed people from other Indigenous territories, including all signatory Nations of Treaty No. 7, members of the Métis Nation of Alberta Region 3, and non-Indigenous people who have come to call the City of Lethbridge home.
Special Thanks to Indigenous Community and Partners
We would like to acknowledge all current and past members of the Lethbridge College President’s Indigenous Advisory Council (PIAC) for the contributions made through fundamental dialogue and key perspectives that have initiated a circle of learning and instituted strategy development. The members of IAC comprised leaders from the Blood Tribe, Piikani, Métis Local 2003 and key agencies that serve the Indigenous community in Lethbridge. We also thank all local Indigenous community members who attended Indigenous strategy engagements and provided their invaluable thoughts on what Lethbridge College means to the community, both personally and professionally.
Lethbridge College Indigenous Services would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to our college leadership, Deans’ Council, students, staff, faculty, and all community members who participated in our engagement events. Thank you for providing your thoughts, for taking the opportunity to learn with open hearts and minds, and for sharing your knowledge and lived experience. Your contributions have given us a starting point for developing a holistic strategy.
Lethbridge College Indigenous Services would also like to recognize the outstanding partnership of the RBC Foundation through its Future Launch Program. RBC’s continuous financial contribution to our initiatives that support Indigenous student success allows for the enhancement of our Indigenous-focused student support services, programming, and events. RBC is a key financial partner in the development of Coming Together in a Holistic Way: Lethbridge College Niitsitapi Strategy.