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Teepee built at Fort Normandeau in Red Deer

A 30-foot teepee has been built at Fort Normandeau to use as a lodge for a spring feast ceremony next month.
A large teepee has been built at Fort Normandeau in Red Deer. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

A 30-foot teepee has been built at Fort Normandeau to use as a lodge for a spring feast ceremony next month.

Members of Red Deer’s Indigenous communities gathered at the historic site, located just east of Highway 2, to set up the teepee on Saturday morning.

“We’re gathering here to continue promoting the revival of our way of life,” said Calvin Williams, Indigenous elder.

“We’re here to create understanding, to create harmony and co-exist peacefully in the First Nation lands. We’re here to show Creator that we still honour the way of life he gave us and our language. We want to continue teaching our young people so they can pass it on to future generations.

“Our language is in jeopardy – a lot of our young people don’t speak our language. We want them to relearn our language, all the old stories, our purpose in life here and how we can be good neighbours. We need to understand each other. We want to create relationships.”

Safe Harbour Society has hosted an annual spring feast at Fort Normandeau for a number of years. June 3’s feast will be the 15th annual edition of the event.

Lynn Jonasson, Indigenous elder, said the event will honour the lives of those who have passed in the past year.

“The feast will celebrate our new year when everything is green, grass is growing and new life is given,” he said.

“We do it for the survival of our people and for all humanity. It took a whole community to come up here to work together: our children, youth, life-givers, warriors, elders. … We have different people from different areas and different tribes.”

Safe Harbour Society offers support to Indigenous individuals struggling, including through the Our Many Healing Blankets program.

“Safe Harbour Society has a shelter and a detox centre and is helping our people suffering today who are on the street battling addictions. Many of our relatives are there,” said Jonasson.

“But also there are our children who are in foster care. There are ones that are in institutions as a result of the residential schools and the results of treaties. This feast is really a form of reconciliation where we can come together to care for each other.”

For more information about the society, visit

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Sean McIntosh

About the Author: Sean McIntosh

Sean joined the Red Deer Advocate team in the summer of 2017. Originally from Ontario, he worked in a small town of 2,000 in Saskatchewan for seven months before coming to Central Alberta.
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