Blackfoot Confederacy council CEO aims to preserve and enhance culture

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The Blackfoot Confederacy Tribal Council decided a little over three years ago to open an office in Calgary to help members of its four nations with common issues.

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CEO Jack Royal has taken a short lease on the space behind the Blackfoot Inn to ‘see where we are’ and determine the needs of the Confederacy – Siksikaitsitapi – which was created to serve the linguistically related groups that make up the Blackfoot people : Siksika, Kainai-Blood Tribe and Peigan-Piikani in southern Alberta, and Aamskapi Pikuni across the US border in Montana.

The need for a central office here and the growth that has developed in serving its members led Siksikaititapi to purchase its own building on Flint Road SE

Under Royal’s leadership, the organization grew to a staff of 13, all members of the Blackfoot Nation. The 15,000 square feet of space in the former Calgary office of Clark Builders – which moved to Manchester’s industrial estate – allows for planned expansion.

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Royal served as CEO of the council for the past three years, but previously served as CEO of the Siksika Nation for many years.

When the idea was first proposed to build a museum on the site of the signing of Treaty 7, Royal became so enthusiastic about the idea of ​​showcasing and promoting Blackfoot culture while preserving the ancestral origin that it applied for and was granted the role of its first president and general manager.

Together with Calgary architect Ron Goodfellow, he oversaw the construction of the magnificent 62,000 square foot museum and the development of the park which has since been designated a National Historic Site, where visitors can experience the rich culture and traditions of his people.

After the signing of the Declaration of the Blackfoot Confederacy in May 2000, Royal was asked to assist in an advisory capacity to advance what had been a loose relationship between First Nations who had the same language, the same societies, the same ceremonies and the same protocol. He organized a three-day conference attended by 500 of the more than 24,000 Canadian members, as well as 21,000 others in Montana, who agreed on the need to collaborate, and Royal was hired as the first CEO of the Blackfoot Confederacy Tribal Council.

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They now work together in common interests under the guidance of qualified and experienced staff in areas that focus on the needs of children.

Education Services strives to eliminate education gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians, and the integration of Blackfoot culture and language into communication at all levels.

The economic well-being of Blackfoot Nations is promoted by the council through efforts that include job creation, job retention and business development, while other staff members are concerned with issues availability of appropriate health services, including healing centres.

One of its main missions is to protect, develop and strengthen the language, traditional knowledge, cultural experiences, oral traditions and literature of the Blackfoot people.

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Shortly after the council’s first office opened in the city, COVID-19 hit, but Royal and his team, while restricted in travel, are succeeding in Siksikaitsitapi’s vision of honoring and utilizing the past. , for the future Blackfoot way of life.

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For several years, SWIFT Learning Partners has been quietly supporting young people in Wood’s Homes with e-learning courses to help them lead safe, healthy and active lifestyles. The free educational material has been logged in by over 500 students over 800 times to access a wide range of safety courses. SWIFT Learning CEO Kim Adolphe has now announced the formalization of a partnership with Wood’s Homes to continue to deliver courses and programs – at no cost – that remove barriers to education and training to help young people lead safe, happy and productive lives. Much of the offerings prepare students to join the workforce, but also include topics such as bullying prevention. Wood’s Homes is a nationally recognized children’s mental health center that provides support for children, youth and families. Over 500 employees deliver over 40 programs and services in Calgary, Strathmore, Lethbridge and Fort McMurray.

David Parker appears regularly in the Herald. Read his columns online at calgaryherald.com/business. He can be reached at 403-830-4622 or by email at [email protected]

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