Lethbridge College alumni Torry Eagle Speaker (left) and student Punky Daniels (right) dance on the coulees at Lethbridge College in October 2020.

With a commitment to learning from place and honouring the land on which it resides, Lethbridge College is hosting a virtual National Indigenous Peoples Day event on Monday, June 21.

The event will focus on highlighting the essence of the Niitsitapi Strategy: Coming Together in a Holistic Way, as well as the importance of what it means to reside on traditional Blackfoot territory. William Singer III (Api’soomaahka), a Kainai Ecological Knowledge Holder, will provide a presentation that allows participants to make a connection to place, focusing on the importance of traditional Blackfoot plants. In addition, a moment of silence will be observed in solemn recognition and mourning of the lives and spirits of the 215 children whose remains were discovered on the grounds of the Kamloops Residential School in Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation Territory.

“On this National Indigenous Peoples Day, we must recommit to implementing the Calls to Action identified by the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” says Dr. Paula Burns, Lethbridge College President and CEO. “We mourn those young lives that were lost in Kamloops and many other communities across Canada, and we must use this time to make meaningful change. We must also follow through on the commitments made in our Niitsitapi Strategy and learn more about the land where we reside and the connections to it built by generations of Blackfoot people.”

National Indigenous Peoples Day is a day to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples of Canada. The college’s Blackfoot Kaahsinnooniks (Grandparents) Betty Ann Little Wolf and Peter Weasel Moccasin will speak to the significance of residing on traditional Blackfoot territory.

Singer’s presentation, titled Niitsitapiipaitapiiwahsini – Niitsitapi Way of Life: Understanding Our Foundation, will include an introduction to the plants that are native to southern Alberta and an explanation of the traditional connection they have to Blackfoot people. By understanding the plants, participants will be able to better understand how those plants have helped sustain and enrich Blackfoot culture over centuries.

“The promise and principle from the Blackfoot perspective is ‘the land sustains us all,’” says Shanda Webber, Lethbridge College Indigenous Services manager. “Our hope is this session will motivate and create dialogue for participants to build on their individual, departmental, institutional and larger collective story of what it means to reside on traditional Blackfoot territory and strengthen our relations and understanding of living in harmony with our Indigenous communities.”

Lethbridge College’s National Indigenous Peoples Day event begins at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 21, on Zoom. It is open to all members of the community to join in and learn. The full schedule of events and the link to join the event are available on the Lethbridge College website.