Whether it is hands on experiences with traditional Blackfoot games or a First Nations conversation circle, there will be plenty of Indigenous events to check out in Lethbridge over the next few months.
While June was National Indigenous History month and September sees Orange Shirt Day, the months in between are still full to the brim with cultural activities to explore around the city.
One organization in Lethbridge known for their large variety of Indigenous events and showcases is the Galt Museum and Archives.
This summer will continue with trend of increasing Indigenous heritage and cultural programming at the museum.
CEO and executive director of the Galt Museum and Fort Whoop-Up, Darrin Martens, says the next two months will feature everything from short activities to longer events taking upwards of two hours.
“Our programming is really about sharing knowledge and information and at the core if it is about truth,” said Martens in an interview Wednesday afternoon. “And that is critical for us.”
He says the museum helps facilitate the programs, though they ensure all Indigenous events are hosted by Indigenous people.
“We bring forward a number of elders and knowledge keepers,” said Martens. “…We don’t speak on behalf of our Blackfoot friends … that is really important to us.”
Martens says there has been more and more interest in Indigenous programming in recent years due to a few different reasons, such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations or the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
He says the goal is to seek out people who are looking to better understand the history of Canada before, and during, the colonial era.
“What we’re really interested in doing is reaching individuals who are curious and who want to learn, who want to experience more about what it means to be a part of this country,” said Martens.
However, he says the museum’s aim is not to lecture or command, but it hopes to bring people together for conversations in a safe gathering place.
“What I think is critical for us, now more than ever, is to help share Indigenous people’s stories,” said Martens.
Furthermore, he says the museum does not aim to shame or attack the European culture and history, instead they hope to enable a better understanding of the decision making in years past.
“We can look at it critically, it’s not about shaming, it’s about understanding decisions that our ancestors made and the repercussions of those then, and now,” said Martens.
The Galt Museum is not the only location in the city that will be hosting Indigenous programs this summer.
Fort Whoop-Up also has a variety of Indigenous events to choose from this summer, including their unique tours of the fort from a non-settler lens.
Known as “Experiences”, the fort will provide an interesting overview of the history of the fort from the eyes of various First Nations groups, like the Blackfoot or Metis.
All these summer events will culminate in one heavily condensed week at the end of September, which also marks the end of summer.
This week, known at the Galt Museum as “The Week of Truth”, goes from September 22 to 29 and it features several events held either at the museum or in the coulees at Fort Whoop-Up.
“We have different community programs happening all throughout the year, but as a concentration to help share Blackfoot and other Indigenous creativity and culture, that really is a week that we elevate,” said Martens.
For a full list of events at either the Galt Museum or Fort Whoop-Up, go to galtmuseum.com/calendar.
By Justin Sibbet, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jul 07, 2023