Recognizing National Indigenous Peoples Day

This notice is from the archives of The Notice Board. Information contained in this notice was accurate at the time of publication but may no longer be so.

The University of Lethbridge’s Blackfoot name is Iniskim, meaning Sacred Buffalo Stone. The University is located in traditional Blackfoot Confederacy territory. We honour the Blackfoot people and their traditional ways of knowing in caring for this land, as well as all Indigenous Peoples who have helped shape and continue to strengthen our University community.

On June 21, our University and our country come together to recognize National Indigenous Peoples Day, and celebrate the history, heritage, resilience and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples across Canada and address what meaningful reconciliation entails. Iniskim’s commitment to the relationship between the University and Indigenous Peoples has deep roots and connects everything we do – on June 21 and every day.

We are committed to honouring the past, being active in the present and planning for the future. This commitment is grounded in teaching from an Indigenous perspective, enhancing intercultural communications, increasing opportunities for Indigenous learners, and ensuring pro-active efforts in bringing forth Indigenous issues and an awareness of cultural differences.

Through traditional Indigenous teachings, we see the importance of the tipi or lodge as being a place where significant milestones and transfer of knowledge take place. At ULethbridge, the Iniskim Governance Process will provide an overlay to show how everything is interconnected. Within the Iniskim Governance Process, ULethbridge can be seen as our lodge, to engage and co-create in a meaningful way. Through an Indigenous lens, and specifically a Blackfoot lens, it highlights how we can work together moving forward for the benefit of the University as a whole. 

Last fall, we began the Comprehensive Strategic Planning process, engaging with a wide variety of internal and external stakeholders for Iniskim’s future. At the heart of this is the Indigenous worldview of how everything is interrelated and the importance of relationships. Rather than developing a separate plan, Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing will be woven throughout the Comprehensive Institutional Plan and supporting plans (Academic Plan, Research Plan, People Plan) to be fully inclusive.

Coming from this holistic perspective and inclusionary approach, every one of us – as students, employees and community members – has a role in developing our Comprehensive Strategic Plan, which will launch in early 2025, and putting the plan into action.

Success manifests itself in many ways — most notably, in the achievements of our students. During 2024 Spring Convocation, ULethbridge celebrated 76 self-identified Indigenous graduates, including Nato’yi’kina’soyi (Holy Light that Shines Bright) Hali Heavy Shield (BA/BEd ’06, MEd ’12, PhD ’24), the first female Blackfoot PhD graduate. Also, for the first time, Blackfoot graduates heard their traditional names read as they crossed the stage, and Troy and Julius Delaney, from the Blood Tribe/Kainai First Nation, provided drumming for the procession up the hill during Ceremony I.

In February, the first stage of a collaborative multi-phased approach to enhance health and well-being on the Kainai Nation got underway in a good way. The project between the Blood Tribe Department of Health Inc. (BTDH) and ULethbridge was gifted a Blackfoot name — Sokkinakia’pi — meaning “all that has to do with healing or health.” In September 2022, BTDH and ULethbridge signed a memorandum of understanding to honour the health-related Calls to Action of the TRC, partnering to expand health services capacity and delivery on the Blood Reserve. That work has now begun with a community needs assessment. Leading the research are Melissa Shouting (BHSc ’19) and Janetta Soup (BMgt ’07), the first all-Kainai research team in ULethbridge’s Faculty of Health Sciences to undertake a project such as this.

During Truth and Reconciliation Week last September, ULethbridge announced the Iniskim TRC Calls to Action Challenge. This challenge is about accountability and truly living up to the commitment to create safe, inclusive spaces for all Indigenous students and employees. It aims to engage the campus community in personal actions that will foster reconciliation on campus and in the community. Many teams and units across campus have given this intentional thought and there are many actions already underway. For example, during 2024 Indigenous Awareness Week, the Faculty of Fine Arts was gifted a Blackfoot name — Piiksinaasin, which means “manifesting beauty” — by Iikaisskini (Low Horn) Dr. Leroy Little Bear (BASc (BA) ’72, DASc ’04). The name reflects the Faculty’s long-standing support of Indigenous arts and creative initiatives and exemplifies the work done to advance reconciliation and decolonization. 

On this National Indigenous Peoples Day – and every day – give thought to your role in the journey towards true reconciliation and begin to imagine what can be accomplished when this is achieved.

We encourage you to take time to participate in events held on campus and in the community. On Wednesday, ULethbridge recognized National Indigenous Peoples Day on campus. Today, we invite everyone to join the southern Alberta community at Galt Gardens at noon for the Reconciliation Lethbridge opening ceremonies and take part in the many activities planned around Lethbridge.


Dr. Digvir Jayas, OC, PhD, DSc, PEng, PAg, FRSC
Ikkayiinnii (Fast Buffalo)
President & Vice-Chancellor

Dr. Iikaisskini (Low Horn), Leroy Little Bear (BASc (BA) ’72, DASc ’04)
Vice- Provost, Iniskim Indigenous Relations 

Read more about National Indigenous Peoples Day events on campus and in the community.


Melissa Villeneuve |