Lyle Keewatin Richards is happy to see the completion of the grandfather stones project in Red Deer’s Coronation Park, with the marker and smaller rock installation. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Red Deer’s indigenous project comes full circle in Coronation Park

A marker and final small installation joins the ‘grandfather stones’

A Stone Circle project that was started by Red Deer’s aboriginal community in the late 1980s, was finally completed this week, some 30 years later.

An interpretive marker was installed in Coronation Park, recounting some of the history of the circle of stones that was designed in 1988 by Siksika elder Tom Cranebear.

Beside the sign is a smaller circle of symbolic rocks embedded in cement.

These small rocks had been brought to a ceremony in Heritage Park, behind the Red Deer Recreation Centre, in about 1999. The Stone Circle was once planned to go there as a millennial project — until city officials stated it could conflict with future rec. centre development and it had to go elsewhere, said Lyle Keewatin Richards, an indigenous advocate.

In the meantime, a ceremony for this indigenous initiative had already been held in Heritage Park in 1999, with an eagle released by the Medicine River Wildlife Centre, and these small symbolic rocks brought by participating groups.

Richards wasn’t sure what to do with the small rocks, once the full-sized large “grandfather stones” were finally installed in 2013 in Coronation Park as a centennial project that marked Red Deer’s 100th birthday.

“I couldn’t just throw them away,” said Richards, as in native culture, a ceremonial gift needs to be respected.

Local artists Dawn Detarando and Brian McArthur of Voyager Art and Tile stepped in to set the small stones in cement, next to the marker that explains the stone circle project. Richards noted they did it voluntarily, just to be involved.

The Stone Circle of 12 large rocks in Coronation Park contains a cross-like pattern of eight stones in the centre, depicting the four directions or seasons.

In its entirety, the project represents the history of indigenous people in the Red Deer area.

But Richards said it’s not a ceremonial installation, it’s for everybody — so he’s always happy to see kids climbing the stones and wedding and graduation pictures being taken there.

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