Downtown Project Celebrates Blackfoot Language

Downtown Lethbridge is proudly located within the territory of the SIKSIKAITSITAPI, the Blackfoot Confederacy.

The United Nations declared 2019 to be the International Year of Indigenous Languages. Indigenous languages and their speakers are being lost at an alarming rate, which has a direct impact on the transmission of culture and knowledge within all communities, Indigenous and non-Indigenous. Language also plays a significant role in place-making, identity and wellness.

Promoting Blackfoot and all Indigenous languages spoken in Lethbridge contributes to the well-being of our community and helps us to celebrate the values and culture that make Sikóóhkotok (Lethbridge) unique. The Heart of our City Committee and the Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee invite you to learn more about the languages and cultures of the Indigenous peoples who call this City home, starting with the original Blackfoot greeting of this territory, OKI.

A new project has been unveiled and is set to tour the Downtown in celebration of Indigenous language and Reconciliation Week.

The three-dimensional word "Oki", the traditional Blackfoot greeting, has been created in celebration of the United Nations year of Indigenous Language.

The unique collaboration between the Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee (RLAC) and the Heart of Our City Committee (HOCC) can currently be seen on the grounds outside the Galt Museum and Archives. The project, which was designed and manufactured in Lethbridge, is made to be mobile and will be moved around the downtown for different events and celebrations.

Heart of Our City Committee member and Blackfoot Knowledge Keeper, Jordan Head, says the funding provided by HOCC was a natural step for the committee as it aligns with one of the committee's key values.

"The Heart of Our City Committee hopes to celebrate and bring greater awareness to the fact that Downtown, like the rest of Lethbridge, is located on traditional Blackfoot territory," says Head. "We want to continue demonstrating that the Downtown is an open and welcoming environment for a diversity of uses, users, and cultures."

"We know that language plays a huge part in building community, in the transferal of knowledge and in the empowerment of Indigenous people," says RLAC Co-Chair, Amanda Scout. "The Oki project is a creative and visual way to celebrate our Blackfoot culture in the city and we hope it starts more conversation around Indigenous culture and language."

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