‘Opening the eyes and ears’: Lethbridge’s 4th annual Reconciliation Week begins

Click to play video 'Lethbridge Reconciliation Week offers virtual events' Lethbridge Reconciliation Week offers virtual events
Lethbridge’s fourth annual Reconciliation Week has begun with a flag raising at City Hall and a full schedule of online speaker webinars. As Emily Olsen reports, those in attendance at Monday’s flag raising say the COVID-19 limitations haven’t dampened the spirit of the events.

Lethbridge’s Reconciliation Week launched with a flag-raising at city hall in front of a notably smaller crowd than usual due to COVID-19 — but those in attendance say it hasn’t hindered the spirit of the events.

“In Lethbridge, you can really see a difference,” Siksika Chief Ouray Crowfoot said Monday.

“There’s still probably a long way to go, but there’s the [work of the] University of Lethbridge, the flying of the flag at city hall right now. I think those kinds of events really show that it’s not just talk, it’s not just a handshake.”
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Read more: Lethbridge Indigenous Cultural Centre moves ahead to planning stages

Crowfoot said while the results of the last four years of work are clear, there is more to be done to support Indigenous communities. 

“A lot of our people are below the poverty line,” Crowfoot said Monday.

“A lot of our people don’t have adequate housing. A lot of our people don’t have their basic needs. If you don’t have your basic needs met, then you don’t think of attaining higher goals. Other things aren’t as important to you until you get those basic needs met, and I think that’s the kind of thing we need to work on.”

Métis elder Alice Bissonette said she feels honoured to be included as a voice on issues like these.

“One of the most important things about Reconciliation Week is opening the eyes and ears of Indigenous people so that everyone is heard on an equal basis and is represented on an equal basis,”  Bissonette said.

“The more we work together and the more thankful we are for what we’ve got and how far we’ve come, everything else is going to fall into line and it’s only going to get better and better.”

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Lethbridge Indigenous relations co-ordinator Pamela Beebe said she’s seen that same enthusiasm increase at advisory committee meetings over the past few years.

Read more: Reconciliation Week kicks off in Lethbridge

“What I’m finding is that we’re getting more and more turnout,” she said.

“[At] our last monthly reconciliation meeting, we had representation from almost all of the Indigenous organizations here in Lethbridge, and from the Blood Tribe and from Red Crow Community College we have educational representatives.”

The next Reconciliation Week events include a Tuesday teepee ceremony in Galt Gardens as well as webinars with speakers.