The City of Lethbridge has adopted “Oki” as its official greeting.
City council voted unanimously on Monday afternoon to adopt the traditional Blackfoot greeting, something the city said is as an important step towards honouring the Indigenous peoples of the land the city is built on.
The announcement comes as the city celebrates its third annual Reconciliation Week.
“What better way to kick-off Reconciliation Week in Lethbridge than by recognizing the traditional Blackfoot greeting as our city welcome,” said Mayor Chris Spearman in a news release on Monday.
“As we move towards deepening reconciliation in our own community, it is important to acknowledge how big of a role language plays in continuing the Blackfoot culture in our city.”
Blackfoot is the most widely spoken Indigenous language in Lethbridge according to the city.
In addition to making “Oki” its official greeting, city council has also asked staff to prepare a submission for the next Capital Improvement Program to identify opportunities to incorporate Blackfoot and where appropriate other Indigenous languages within things like city facilities, parks and neighbourhoods.
2019 has been declared by the United Nations as the Year of Indigenous Language.
WATCH BELOW: (May 29. 2019) While many Blackfoot elders are glad to see their culture being acknowledged by the United Nations when it declared 2019 the international year of Indigenous languages, some stress there’s still a long way to go in rekindling the dying languages. Demi Knight reports.