A large section of the SW Calgary ring road is now open to traffic.
The ceremony, however, drew a member of the Tsuut’ina First Nation who said it was “not a good day.”
The province and the City of Calgary announced the opening of a 12-kilometre section from Fish Creek Blvd to Sarcee Trail SW, known as Tsuut’ina Trail.
The province said the ring road is now 80 per cent complete and still on track for a full opening in fall 2021.
“We’re one step closer to having a free-flowing road circling Alberta’s largest city,” said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.
According to the province, the new roadway will cut 6.5 kilometres off existing travel routes. This portion of the roadway makes up just under 40 per cent of the Tsuut’ina Trail.
Once complete, the ring road will have 101 kilometres of free flow vehicle traffic around the city.
Dodginghorse said he was ‘made powerless’ during ring road process
Seth Cardinal Dodginghorse wedged his way to the podium at the Tsuut’ina Trail ceremony, just prior to Calgary Glenmore MLA Whitney Issik making closing remarks.
He told the story of how his family lost their land to the SW ring road construction.
“This is the land that I also grew up on, and I was intending for my future generations to preserve and hold,” said Dodginghorse.
“I have experienced the loss of agency, was made powerless and finally I was invisible. There was a lack of inclusion to Tsuut’ina Nation Southwest Calgary Ring Road discussions, for my family, and eventually I was told that I had no right to speak or negotiate anything.”
Chief Roy Whitney responded to questions about the inclusion of Tsuut’ina people in the process.
“We had months of discussion within our community,” said Chief Whitney.
“When the vote occurred, it was close to 80 per cent in favour of conducting the deal with the province, and accepting the lands that were provided to us. It was a community vote, and as our elders would say… there’s a time and place for everything and this is not the time and place.”
He said he was willing to talk to any member of the Nation and that Tsuut’ina Nation members discussed the ring road. Chief Whitney also said that today was not the time nor the place for such discussion.
Dodginghorse completed his speech and cut off his braids on the newly-opened road. Drummers played as he walked away.
- With files from Omar Sherif / LiveWire Calgary