Representing all walks of the Red Deer, Central Alberta and Treaty 6 community, a teepee, made of squares will be built as part of the Canada 150 birthday celebrations.
On Friday, the Red Deer Native Friendship Society, city councillors and Red Feather Women, a social justice group came together to work on the project.
Each square, a 12-inch by 12-inch square, represents where a person sits with Canada 150. There are nearly 300 squares that contain important topics such as reconciliation, resistance, missing and murdered indigenous women, encouragement, hope, intention and the next 150 years.
“Each square would be an individual’s thoughts, interpretations, intention, symbol, whatever that happens to be of reconciliation or resistance or their experience in regards to Canada 150,” said Carmen Plante, who is part of the project.
“When people stop themselves and think about what the significance is in terms of their own relationship to Canada’s first people. I think that’s an important thing for us to ask ourselves. That can be presented in an artistic and symbolic form.”
For Coun. Ken Johnston, it was a chance to learn more about a different perspective from his own.
“I look at reconciliation and what we’ve tried to do in the last couple of years as Canada and then localizing it,” he said. “I take advantage of anything I can to broaden my perspective and celebrate. It was an opportunity to learn from the aboriginal community.”
Johnston, a member of the Red Deer Urban Aboriginal Voices Society as the city’s representative, and Coun. Lynne Mulder participated in the event.
“What I’ve learned is we’ve made mistakes, culturally we’ve made mistakes in this country, in how we relate to our indigenous Canadians,” said Johnston. “It was about sitting in and enjoying the aspects of their culture.”
The hope is the teepee can be completed for National Aboriginal Day (June 21), Canada Day, the annual Community Spring Feast (June 10) and for pow wows throughout Central Alberta this year.
The Red Deer Native Friendship Society was one of the region’s recipients of the Canada 150 fund through the Department of Canadian Heritage. They received $48,000 for their Celebrating Canada’s Strong Indigenous Culture component to local Canada 150 celebrations.