LETHBRIDGE – The University of Lethbridge permanently raised the Blackfoot Confederacy flag on campus Thursday, Sept. 20, as part of a symbolic effort to reconcile relations between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians.
Noting the U of L’s location on traditional Blackfoot territory, a media statement from the university cited the creation of one of Canada’s first Native American Studies departments, a protocol handbook and the dedication of the Iikaisskini Gathering Place, as steps over more than 50 years to weave Indigenous culture into the fabric of the U of L.
“The relationship we have traditionally fostered with the Blackfoot community has taken on increased significance since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) released its historic reports and findings,” said U of L President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Mike Mahon in the release. “While we have long valued our role as leaders in creating opportunity for Indigenous populations, we recognize there is much more to be done and are eager to contribute to reconciliation efforts.
“I believe we are a powerful collective that can contribute significantly to this nation by teaching a clearer understanding of our shared history, closing knowledge gaps for aboriginal and non-aboriginal students, and creating innovative solutions that facilitate action,” he added.
With the flag joining those of Canada, Alberta and the U of L outside the Students’ Union, fourth-year Dhillon School of Business student Piinaakoyim ‘SeenFromAfar’ Tailfeathers, discussed the importance of the move.
“It is a proud moment for our people, as our flag is lifted so are our spirits,” said Tailfeathers. “The Siksikaitsitapii have inhabited this territory since time immemorial, it is only right for our flag to fly. This is a small, yet significant step forward, and it is my wish that the institution continues this important work in the years to come. This has been many years in the making, and I have been looking forward to this momentous day.”
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