The soon-to-be installed Stone Circle in Coronation Park will be the first permanent monument in Red Deer that celebrates aboriginal people and culture.
The 20-metre in diameter monument of 20 standing boulders arranged in a circular pattern will be installed in the park in June. Each round river rock is about one metre in diameter.
In the centre, eight stones will be arranged in the four directions representing everything from the four seasons to the life cycles of the universe. The 12 stones along the perimeter represent the sacred ceremonies.
Lyle Keewatin Richards, one of the voices behind the monument, said the Stone Circle is a cultural interpretative installation that will be installed in the northwest corner of the park, directly north of the walking trail along the Waskasoo Creek.
The circle will serve as a self-interpreted cultural site for the entire Red Deer community.
Tanya Schur, executive director of the Red Deer Native Friendship Centre Society, said the circle will not be a sacred site but will commemorate the history and culture of mostly the Blackfoot Nation.
Organizers would like to see the project completed by June 22, in time to have the site dedicated during National Aboriginal Week.
The project has been several years in the works but only gained steam again when the Red Deer Centennial Committee decided to support the aboriginal heritage project.
Keewatin Richards said the location in the park is important because it positions the relationship between aboriginal peoples and the Crown in historical and present context. The site is also easy access to the downtown and provides opportunities for community celebrations.
“We are so pleased it will be going into Coronation Park,” said Keewatin Richards.
“There are two things that are longstanding in Canada. First is First Nations and second is the Crown. All our dealings with the government has been with the Crown. Our relationship with the Crown pre-dates the formation of Canada and pre-dates the formation of provinces and municipalities. That’s what was the stumbling blocks in the day. That’s why it was so important to be here. We honour the Queen so much because that’s where our relationship is.”
The Stone Circle design was given to the group in the late 1990s by Siksika Nation elder Tom Crane Bear, who worked with the Red Deer Native Friendship Centre in the 1980s and is now the elder at The Banff Centre.
“He said there is nothing in Red Deer to say that aboriginal people were ever here,” said Keewatin Richards.
“If you look around, there’s a church on every second corner. There’s malls. There’s Heritage Square but if you look at any of those, none of them have any sort of icon related to aboriginal people. It’s an opportunity to put a permanent installation in a high-profile place that people can enjoy.”
The cost of the project is $35,000.
The Red Deer Native Friendship Society, Urban Aboriginal Voices Society and the Red Deer Centennial Committee joined forces to make the monument a reality. The boulders were donated and will be transported by Bettenson’s Sand and Gravel.