The Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) announced today that Lethbridge College won its Innovation Award for the college’s “We are Aikowania” video and facility reconciliation initiative. The award recognizes a member institution that has developed an initiative demonstrating unique marketing, communication or technological advances in its athletic program.
The two-minute video was first shown in September 2022 at the unveiling of the college’s new Indigenous logo on its home court, and it has been shown many times since, including at convocations, community events and championship games.
The college’s submission included the collaborative video and facility upgrades, all of which confirmed connections between the college, the sports community, the Indigenous community and the land; reaffirmed the college’s commitment to College and Institutes Canada’s Indigenous Education Protocol; created a memorable video that captured the beauty and bounty of Blackfoot territory; and successfully launched a new logo and Indigenous name.
When Lethbridge College started changes to the gym early in 2022 as part of a floor resurfacing project, it became the first CCAA member to incorporate Indigenous culture in its gymnasium floor design. The new design includes the familiar fierce Kodiak bear at the centre, but it is now surrounded by a number of meaningful Indigenous images, designs and words, including the word Aikowania (ay-GO-aww-nya), which appears on one side of the court next to the painted drawing of a bear. Aikowania refers to body awareness and movement – the strength, stamina and sharp mind needed to be able to spring into action at a moment’s notice. It is the essence of readiness, and something all Kodiaks (and Lethbridge College community members) can strive for.
The project was “a true reflection of the importance of telling the story of the land and all it encompasses,” says Lowell Yellow Horn, the college’s manager of Indigenous Services. “It captures both the natural beauty of the prairies with mountains in the distance, as well as the gym, shows how the new logo and design bring Blackfoot territory into the gym, and celebrates the body awareness and movement (Aikowania) that are part of the lives of anyone who learns, works or plays at Lethbridge College.”
Creating the video was a true collaborative effort involving colleagues from Indigenous Services, Athletics, Marketing and Communications as well as external videographer Curtis Huisman. The video showcases the natural beauty of Blackfoot territory, where the college is situated, as well as the action and activity inside of the gym.
“What an incredible recognition to receive from the CCAA,” says Todd Caughlin, director of Kodiaks Athletics. “The support from the entire community to make the whole initiative a reality is so appreciated. This isn’t just recognition for the college’s Indigenous Services, Athletics or Marketing and Communication teams. It’s an entire community recognition and only one of many steps to come as we work together to reconnect the land and its people.”