Located on traditional Blackfoot territory, Lethbridge College is proud to showcase its Indigenous students, employees and community members during Indigenous Celebration Day on Thursday. As part of this year’s festivities, the college will be granted a Blackfoot name, an important step towards strengthening ties with the local Indigenous community.
The annual celebration will also feature traditional entertainment, displays and food, celebrating all of the region’s Indigenous cultures.
“We have so much knowledge, talent, expertise and leadership among our local Indigenous population and this is our chance to really celebrate that,” says Shanda Webber, manager of Recruitment and Indigenous Services. “Indigenous Celebration Day is about celebrating our pride, history and knowledge of all First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, as well as creating a welcoming, inclusive learning environment for all. We invite everyone to join us for this annual celebration.”
Indigenous Celebration Day begins at 10 a.m. on Thursday, with a grand entry and opening ceremonies, followed by the Blackfoot naming ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Entertainment will then take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., including powwow drumming and dancing, hoop dancing, Métis fiddling and jigging, and a hand drum contest. The afternoon will also feature performances from Lethbridge College alumnus and Juno nominee Armond Duck Chief (Business Administration – Management 2015), Will Big Bull and Soul Sisters.
A traditional feast of Buffalo stew and bannock will be available from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The entire event is free to attend and is open to anyone from both the college and the community at large. All festivities will take place in the Val Matteotti Gymnasium.
This fall, 374 Indigenous students are taking diploma, degree or certificate programs at Lethbridge College, representing 8.6 per cent of the college’s diploma, degree and certificate students. Lethbridge College’s efforts towards serving Indigenous students both in and out of the classroom earned it a bronze Indigenous Education Excellence award in May from Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan). The college has proudly had Indigenous students on campus for most of its 60 years and provides a “Circle of Services” to assist Indigenous learners.
Indigenous Services at Lethbridge College, in collaboration with many internal and external stakeholders, developed a three-year Niitsitapi Indigenization Plan for 2016-19. In addition, in recognition of the recommendations emanating from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and as a signatory of CICan’s Indigenous Education Protocol, the college has also implemented an Indigenous President’s Council. This council is composed of college and Indigenous community leaders and provides guidance and direction to an internal Indigenous committee as it works to implement a three-year Indigenization Plan, which will further enhance its already extensive program and service offerings.