The opening ceremony for Aboriginal Awareness Week kicked off a week honouring Calgary’s Indigenous community.
People gathered at The Elbow River Camp Monday morning to celebrate the beginning of Aboriginal awareness week.
Harold Horsefall, Indigneous Relations Strategist with the City of Calgary, welcomed everyone to the event and gave many words of encouragement on the strides made on Truth and Reconciliation in the city.
“I happened to be at the Saddle Lake rodeo and Indian relay horse races on the weekend with some extended family from the Rocky Boy Cree reserve located in the United States, and a gentleman there came up to visit with us; he was a lawyer, legal counsel for the Rockaway Cree Nations,” Horsefall said.
“He shared with us that these conversations about reconciliation aren’t even taking place. So, let’s give ourselves a round of applause because these conversations are taking place and we’re having action behind it, and that’s really important.”
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek was on hand to speak about the importance of continued progress at the kickoff ceremony.
“Our promise toward Truth and Reconciliation needs to come from the heart, and it needs to reflect a commitment to do better in the future,” Gondek said.
“Moving towards a path that includes Reconciliation, and action to hear the stories that have been suppressed, the histories that were never told, and the voices that were silenced for far too long. So what does that actually mean in the work that we do? It means we have to be intentional in our progress because status quo is no longer enough.”
The 2023 Calgary Stampede First Nations Princess Alayiah Wolf Child, whose Blackfoot name is Maasamahkoyinnimaaki, echoed the sentiments of Horsefall and Gondek, while also praising Indigenous Peoples for all the work they do to make National Indigenous History Month special.
“It’s a good month to bring awareness that we are still here on Turtle Island, which I call Canada,” Wolf Child said.
“Throughout this month, I just feel even more proud to walk around and be who I am and feel comfortable in my own skin.
“National Awareness Week is something different because it’s a week where we all get to go to all these different events, see all the entrepreneurs, these artists, and see where their talents bring their life to, because as Indigenous people, we’re such creative people and it’s interesting to watch where our minds bring us.”
Wolf Child also encouraged non-Indigenous people to check out the events throughout the week.
“We want to welcome you to all these events such as the grand opening here today at Elbow River Camp,” she said.
“Don’t be afraid to attend because we’re more than welcome to let you sit and watch. Engage, join in on the dances, and even get in on an owl dance which is pretty nice.”
Events across Calgary were held Saturday ahead of the start of Aboriginal Awareness Week. You can find a full list of events among other things such as event maps, history, talent showcases and more at www.aawc.ca