The Lethbridge College was presented with a traditional Blackfoot name for its dedication to indigenous education.
The name “Stone Pipe” or “Ohkotoki’aahkkoiyiiniimaan” was given to the college by Elder Peter Weasel Moccasin saying the stone pipes are used in scared ceremonies and keeps the Blackfoot people at peace.
The Stone Pipe is created from the elements found behind the college including a stone and a piece of wood for the pipe stem. The stone becomes refined and smoothed out while the wood is made to be straight and unbreakable. This represents the a straight and good path between the two communities.
Dr. Paula Burns, President and CEO of Lethbridge College received the honor saying that the college is incredibly grateful to receive the name and that this is a big step towards connecting the college to indigenous communities.ADVERTISEMENT
“We recognize the importance of Indigenous education and we will respect our name with a promise to continue on the straight path to improving the lives of our students and the communities that we call home,” said Dr. Paula Burns.
Shanda Webber, Lethbridge College manager of Recruitment and Indigenous Services says that it is an incredible honour for the college to acknowledge the traditional land that the school sits on and the commitment it has for indigenous education.
“It shows that it is a partnership and Lethbridge College will really show its commitment of making indigenous education a priority, but making sure that we are continuing to strengthen relations and to help all students strive for post-secondary education,” said Webber.
The Lethbridge College has been creating a stronger relationship with the indigenous community by permanently flying the Blackfoot confederacy flag and building the Founders Square area which features the history of the traditional land the school sits on.
8.6 per cent of the college’s student population is Indigenous students, which has made the connection a priority for the institution. Making efforts towards serving indigenous students in and out of the college earned the college a bronze indigenous education of excellence award in May.
Webber says that this is a good foundation to start on for strengthening relationships and that the college is always looking into more ways they can connect with indigenous communities and schools.
“We are looking at partnerships to grow with our other post-secondary, Red Crow Community College, as well as the Peigan Board of Education, and actually this year we are also looking at doing a research project to strengthen our ties with the high schools,” said Webber.
The Lethbridge College hosted the Indigenous Celebration Day to acknowledge the traditions and culture of the indigenous students at the college. The event was open for everyone to come, enjoy and learn with a day filled with powwow drumming, dancing and a traditional feast.
The college is committed to making indigenous education a priority and will continue to strengthen the relationship between the educational institution and Indigenous community.