Indigenous heritages deserve dedicated attention in Canadian cities. Retaining and attracting Indigenous talent and knowledge hinges on cities promoting belonging by reflecting the histories, heritages, and the continued contributions of Indigenous peoples to Canadian society. Heritage is as much about the future as it is about the past. Because urban spaces are not usually identified as places of Indigenous history, and in fact might be assumed to be antithetical to Indigenous history, or worse, have often been hostile to Indigenous peoples, it is all the more critical that cities embrace the responsibility of de-colonizing urban planning and place-making practices to ensure urban environments are where Indigenous peoples want to stay, want to go, and will thrive – culturally, socially and economically. Possibly counterintuitive to many, the latest census data* reveals that close to half of Canada’s Indigenous population (45%) lives in cities with over 100,000 people, and the growth of Indigenous populations living in these cities from 2016 to 2021 (12.5%) is greater than the growth of the overall Indigenous population in Canada (9.4%)—which in turn, is greater than that of the non-Indigenous population in Canada (5.3%) over the same time period. Further, movement between urban centers and home communities is a common feature of life for many individuals identifying as Indigenous, hence, what cities do to contribute to a sense of belonging and wellbeing for Indigenous peoples ripples beyond growing urban Indigenous populations.
We invite you to peruse the 2023 City of Lethbridge Heritage Management Plan, and to let others know about this important development in our city. There is follow-on work ahead, and it is meant to be a living document to evolve as work continues with the Blackfoot Nations and Métis Nation of Alberta – Lethbridge and Area, but note, as a key accomplishment, how the question of Indigenous heritage is not parallel (or additive) in relation to conventional heritage in the new HMP. It is woven throughout instead, reflecting the principle of “two jagged worlds converging”—the Reconciliation Lethbridge logo—modelled after the teachings of Dr. Leroy Little Bear. The new HMP stands in that sense as a model of how to approach Truth and Reconciliation within urban policy projects.
City of Lethbridge - Sikóóhkotok Heritage Management Plan 2023
Document authors: Ross Kilgour, Megan Berry, Andrea Cuéllar, Perry Stein
Heritage Management Plan Working Group members: Andrea Cuéllar, I’kitstakiaakii (Charlene Bruised Head – Mountain Horse), Ikkinainiahkii (Camina Weasel Moccasin), Ross Kilgour, George Kuhl, Ninna Piiksii (Mike Bruised Head), Echo Nowak, Perry Stein.