The University of Lethbridge is taking new steps to honour the traditional territory of Indigenous peoples at its Lethbridge and Calgary campuses.
The institution says it has recognized its place on Indigenous territory for some time, but without specific protocols on when the formalities should be used and what should be said.
“Formalizing this acknowledgment comes in part from our commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations but it also comes from a desire within the university community to honour the local Aboriginal communities in a respectful manner,” said Kathleen Massey, the U of L’s associate vice-president (students) in a news release on Tuesday.
“Many colleagues and students have been using statements of their own already and while they were well-meaning and thoughtful, they are somewhat inconsistent and have not been approved by the local communities.”
The university is adopting acknowledgment statements in long and short form, which will be used at the onset of major ceremonies and events such as convocations and conferences.
An example of the short statement is as follows:
Oki, and welcome to the University of Lethbridge. Our university’s Blackfoot name is Iniskim, meaning Sacred Buffalo Stone. The university is located in traditional Blackfoot Confederacy territory. We honour the Blackfoot people and their traditional ways of knowing in caring for this land, as well as all Aboriginal peoples who have helped shape and continue to strengthen our university community.
The statements approved by the university’s Board of Governors are also endorsed by Blackfoot elders in southern Alberta and the Blackfoot Confederacy.
“It’s a very positive step forward to formalize these statements and to recognize the generations of Aboriginal peoples, past, present and future, whose connection to the land is profound,” Massey said.