Last month, the Historic Resources Management Branch had the opportunity to attend the National Trust for Canada’s annual conference, right here in our home province. Held October 22-24 in Calgary, the conference’s theme of “Heritage Energized” explored how heritage energy can turn places around, empower people and create opportunities.
Preceding the conference was Moh-Kins-Tsis: Calgary Indigenous Heritage Roundtable, a day-long session bringing together Elders and knowledge keepers with practitioners in the fields of heritage, archaeology, architecture and planning, to discuss how to protect Indigenous heritage sites in the urban environment. Moderators Lorna Crowshoe (Aboriginal Issues Strategist, City of Calgary) and Makiinima—Roy Fox (Former Chief of the Kainai Nation) set the tone for the day by establishing the room as an “ethical space”—where groups with contrasting world views can come together in respectful, cooperative and collaborative ways. The audience then had the special opportunity to learn about Blackfoot ways of knowing from Elders Wilton Goodstriker, Herman Yellow Old Woman, Bruce Wolf Child, Andy Blackwater and Dr. Reg Crowshoe. These discussions were expanded upon by a number of professional and academic presenters.
The latter half of the day focused on the Paskapoo Slopes—an area in the city’s northwest rich in archaeological and cultural heritage and of high significance to the Blackfoot Nations. A panel composed of Elders, a representative of the developer, City of Calgary staff and heritage professionals spoke to the processes undertaken by the City of Calgary to engage the Siksika, Kainai and Piikani Nations to ensure the land was developed with their valuable input. The results of this positive engagement can be seen in the new Blackfoot name for the slopes, Askapii’ (Medicine Hills). Blair First Rider, an Aboriginal Consultation Advisor with the Historic Resources Management Branch and Kainai ceremonialist, provided the provincial perspective. Moh-Kins-Tsis challenged our assumptions and encouraged us to think of new ways to incorporate both western and Indigenous practices in heritage conservation.
Following that excellent start, the Calgary 2015 conference began, bringing together professionals, tradespeople, administrators, students, volunteers and advocates from a huge variety of jurisdictions and disciplines. Saturday’s workshop “Alberta Culture and Tourism: Protecting and Promoting Appreciation for Alberta’s Rich Heritage” provided the Branch with an opportunity to share some of our recent work. Speaker Darryl Bereziuk (Director of the Archaeological Survey) described how the regulatory processes empowered by the Historical Resources Act legislation led to the uncovering of the archaeological gem known today as the Quarry of the Ancestors. Todd Kristensen (Regional Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey) presented on the Heritage Art Series: how scientific study and visual arts can come together to aid in our understanding (and enjoyment!) of the past (see the most recent addition to the Heritage Arts Series here). Building on the themes established in Moh-Kins-Tsis: Calgary Indigenous Heritage Roundtable, Laura Golebiowski (Aboriginal Consultation Advisor) highlighted how the Aboriginal Heritage Section works directly with Indigenous communities to identify and protect traditional use sites.
“Heritage Energized” provided an excellent opportunity for the Historic Resources Management Branch to learn from—and with—our counterparts, colleagues and friends across Canada and the world. The conference’s strong focus on Indigenous cultural heritage, intangible heritage, and the significant role of community in decision-making processes marks a movement toward broader and inclusive ways of understanding the past. As Dr. Reg Crowshoe said in his remarks during Moh-Kins-Stis, there is a window of opportunity before us as heritage professionals. Elders are opening the door to share their knowledge, and now is the time to look for shared values, form relationships and work together. For the Historic Resources Management Branch, this truly is an energizing idea and one which we are so excited to continue working toward.
A number of the conference presentations can be accessed online here. Many thanks to the National Trust for Canada for having us!
Written By: Laura Golebiowski, Aboriginal Consultation Advisor