Friday, April 27, 2018

Blackfoot First Nations give traditional blessing at Waterton Lakes National Park and honour Parks Canada's team members

Parks Canada - Across the country, Parks Canada and Indigenous peoples are partners in conserving, restoring, and presenting Canada's natural and cultural heritage. On April 20 Parks Canada was honoured to host a traditional Blackfoot blessing ceremony by Kainai and Piikani First Nations in Waterton Lakes National Park.

The blessing ceremony is a traditional event and a way to give thanks for the past, present, and future.
Waterton Superintendent Ifan Thomas and Mr Bruce Wolf Child Elder

The blessing ceremony highlights the physical, cultural, and spiritual significance of Waterton Lakes National Park for the Blackfoot Confederacy, as part of their traditional territory, and recognized the impact of the 2017 Kenow Wildfire on the land and the courageous efforts of Parks Canada and their many partners in managing the fire. The event also included a naming ceremony for two Parks Canada team members as a reflection of the expanding working relationship between Waterton Lakes National Park and the Blackfoot.

Patrick Black Plume, fire keeper for sacred society
The ceremony included representatives from Kainai, Piikani, Siksika, and Blackfeet Nations, as well as representatives from Parks Canada, Glacier National Park (U.S.A), and local community groups.

Mr. Bruce Wolf Child doing blessing
Waterton Lakes National Park is part of the traditional territory and a place of significance for the Blackfoot (Niitsitapi). The land, water, air, animals, and plants are all interconnected with significant meaning, and are woven together into the fabric of contemporary Blackfoot life. Parks Canada is working closely with Kainai and Piikani First Nations to jointly develop interpretive programming that will provide opportunities for visitors to learn about Blackfoot culture, history, and connection to Waterton Lakes National Park.

Waterton Lakes National Park currently features a robust Indigenous program offer, and we invite visitors to participate in one of our Blackfoot interpretive programs this summer. Parks Canada very much values the relationship with the Blackfoot, and will continue to work closely with Kainai and Piikani First Nations on matters relating to the management of Waterton Lakes National Park.

Waterton Lakes National Park is open to visitors. When planning your visit, remember that the Kenow Wildfire of 2017 has impacted the park in a number of ways. The fire affected 38% of Waterton Lakes National Park, including 50% of the park's vegetation. There continues to be many recreation opportunities for visitors to experience in Waterton Lakes National Park, however some areas of the Park remain closed as a result of hazards. A full list of what is available, along with information on recreational opportunities is available on our website to help visitors plan their trip.

Additional details on the 2018 visitor offer will be provided in the near future.

The Kenow wildfire has revealed previously unknown archeological evidence of the traditional Indigenous presence on the land. Together with local Indigenous partners, Parks Canada will examine these findings to develop a richer understanding of Blackfoot history in the area.

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