A giant teepee has been erected in Lethbridge’s Galt Gardens by the Sage Clan for Reconciliation Week in Lethbridge.
Those in attendance on Tuesday say its presence is significant in more ways than one.
“It’s my first time in a teepee ceremony,” Sage Clan Team Lead Wynonna Smith said.
Her group, the Sage Clan Patrol, has been gifted the rights to the teepee design by an elder in a transfer ceremony.
Smith said experiencing this kind of ceremony is rare and especially moving considering historical bans on this type of event.
“To let us have our ceremonies in public and where the people are is very significant,” Smith said. “It was never allowed back in the day, and now that it is, it’s really heartwarming.”
“I’m really grateful and really thankful that we are building bridges.”
She said the Indigenous community which typically congregates in Galt Gardens is thrilled.
“It really brings a lot of light to Galt Gardens and to the people here,” Smith said. “They’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”
Indigenous Relations Coordinator for the City of Lethbridge, Pamela Beebe, said there is more to come, with another teepee going up in the gardens on Wednesday.
Beebe added that while the public is not permitted to enter the teepees unless invited, the hope is that it will give the entire community a sense of pride.
“I’m hoping that they love the culture as much as we do — that they feel invited, that they feel welcome.
“For Indigenous people here and the First Nations and the Kainai members — which we have higher numbers of — I’m hoping they feel a sense of pride, a sense of ownership, a sense of ‘this is where I come from,'” Beebe said Tuesday.
The teepee will be taken down at the end of the week. Visitors with questions in the meantime are invited to ask Sage Clan Patrol members standing guard.