Parks Canada and Banff National Park Unveils Indigenous Welcome Sign, Includes Blackfoot Language – April 11, 2024

Parks Canada and Banff National Park Unveils Indigenous Welcome Sign, Includes Blackfoot Language

Blaire Russell, Blood Tribe Communications Officer

Published April 11, 2024

On April 10, 2024, Parks Canada and Banff National Park held a digital sign unveiling ceremony at the Cascade Ponds outside of Banff, AB townsite. The digital sign is prominent at the East Entrance of Banff National Park saying “Oki” and welcoming Siksikaitsitapii-Blackfoot visitors into the park, along with more than 4 million international visitors annually.

“It has been said that language is the cradle of culture, so we are deeply honoured that beginning today and for the first time in the history of Banff National Park, visitors will be greeted in your languages and your words.” Ron Hallman, Parks Canada President and Chief Executive Officer stated.

“This [sign] has been two years in the making, I want to thank everyone here for their contribution,” Salman Rasheed, Field Unit Superintendent of Banff National Park stated. Rasheed expressed his gratitude to the Indigenous Advisory Circle for their work in engaging with their communities and the park.

The Indigenous Advisory Circle (IAC) for Banff National Park, established in 2018, is an important means to better understand Indigenous perspectives and priorities for the relationship with Parks Canada. The Circle, made up of the Kainai, Siksika, and Piikani First Nations, The Tsuut’ina First Nation, Stoney Nakota First Nations, and the Métis Nation of Alberta – Region 3, shares knowledge and provides input, advice, and recommendations to park superintendents on issues and topics related to Banff National Park.

Members on the IAC from the Blood Tribe include: Nadine Tail Feathers, Marjie Crop Eared Wolf, Mike Oka, JJ Shade, Clarence Black Water, Patrick Black Plume, Agnes First Charger, Wilton Good Striker, Albert Black Water, Les Wolf Child, Harriet and Leroy Heavy Runner.

“Our creation stories talk about Napi making this land, we have campsites in Blackfoot territory dated back as far as 35,000 years ago. So truly, time immemorial – the Blackfoot have been here,” explained Blood Tribe elder and council member, Ponokaiksiksinam – Martin Heavy Head. “We want to welcome everyone here to share this land together today.”

The sign now displays Indigenous words of welcome in the languages of the Kainai, Siksika, Piikani, Tsuut’ina, Stoney Nakoda (Bearspaw, Chiniki, and Goodstoney) and Métis Nation of Alberta.

Video highlights of the ceremony can be viewed on the Blood Tribe Communications YouTube page: https://youtu.be/zDUvnaNAeGo

Videographer: Todd Eagle Child, Blood Tribe Communications Officer

Banff National Park Indigenous welcome sign at East Gates of park. The sign was unveiled during a ceremony held on April 10, 2024 in Banff National Park.

Photo: Tony Day Rider (Delaney)

Parks Canada President and CEO, Ron Hallman speaking at the Banff National Park Indigenous Sign Unveiling Ceremony held in Banff National Park on April 10, 2024.

Photo: Blaire Russell

Banff National Park Superintendent, Salman Rasheed speaking at the Banff National Park Indigenous Sign Unveiling Ceremony held in Banff National Park on April 10, 2024.

Photo: Blaire Russell

Representatives of the Blood Tribe which include members of the Banff National Park and Parks Canada Indigenous Advisory Circle (IAC), Blood Tribe Council, Blood Tribe Administration, and Blood Tribe students at the Banff National Park Indigenous Sign Unveiling Ceremony held in Banff National Park on April 10, 2024.

Photo: Blaire Russell

Blood Tribe elder and council member Ponokaiksiksinam – Martin Heavy Head speaking at the Banff National Park Indigenous Sign Unveiling Ceremony held in Banff National Park on April 10, 2024.

Photo: Blaire Russell

Representatives of the Blood Tribe which include members of Council, Blood Tribe Administration, and Blood Tribe spiritual leaders at the Banff National Park Indigenous Sign Unveiling Ceremony held in Banff National Park on April 10, 2024.

Photo: Blaire Russell

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