Reverting Colonial Cartography: Searching for Drift-Pile Camp

Written by: Karl Giroux, Consultation Director, Driftpile Cree Nation and Laura Golebiowski, Aboriginal Consultation Adviser

Editor’s note: On July 24, 2018, Driftpile Cree Nation conducted a site visit with representatives of the Historic Resources Management Branch. The purpose of the site visit was to identify the “Drift-Pile Camp” referenced in the journal of George Mercer Dawson, as he traveled what is now Alberta for the Geological Survey of Canada in the late 1800s. Below, Laura Golebiowski (Aboriginal Consultation Adviser, Historic Resources Management Branch) and Karl Giroux (Consultation Director with Driftpile Cree Nation) share their experiences visiting the location.

“The Athabasca River derives its name from the great lake into which it flows, which is called A-pē-pas-kow by the Crees. The upper part of the river is known as Mas-ta-hi-sī-pī or Great River.

On reaching its north bank on our traverse from Sturgeon Lake, Mr. MacLeod and I had arranged to separate, Mr. MacLeod continuing on overland toward Dirt Lake, while I intended to make a canoe and descend the river. As no traces had yet been found of the party which was supposed to be on the way from Edmonton to meet us, we now set fire to a great pile of drift-logs on one of the bars, and sent one Indian up and another down the river to seek for information, but all with no result. It was further unexpectedly found that no cottonwood trees suitable for making a canoe existed in the valley, and as the river was evidently quite unsuited to be descended on a raft, by reason of its swiftness and the number of shoal bars which occur now on one side and now on the other, it became difficult to know in what way the programme could be carried out. It was finally decided to use the canvass cargo-covers and blanket wrapped in the construction of a canoe. To this all hands devoted themselves for three days, when we had the satisfaction of seeing a large canoe, properly framed and strengthened, which when painted over with a mixture of bacon fat and spruce gum was nearly water-tight.”

The above text is taken from George Mercer Dawson’s 1881 Report on Exploration from Port Simpson on the Pacifica Coast to Edmonton on the Saskatchewan. George Dawson was a Nova Scotia-born geographer who conducted numerous expeditions for the Geological Survey of Canada, beginning in 1875 until his unexpected death in 1901.

George Dawson LAC
George Mercer Dawson, then Assistant Director of the Geological Survey of Canada in May 1885. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Read more

“Our record in stone”: Blackfoot perspectives of Okotoks

Written by: Blair First Rider and Laura Golebiowski, Aboriginal Consultation Advisers

Editor’s note: Oki! June is National Indigenous History Month, an invitation to honour the history, diversity, strength and contemporary achievements of Indigenous peoples. Aboriginal Consultation Advisers Blair First Rider and Laura Golebiowski, both based in Treaty 7 territory, met at the Okotoks Erratic this spring to discuss the significance of the site to the Blackfoot Confederacy.

IMG_5666
Blair First Rider at the Okotoks Erratic.

If you’ve ever travelled southwest of Calgary and witnessed a towering mass of quartzite stand out among the prairie landscape, you are continuing a tradition that Indigenous peoples have done since time immemorial. The 16,500-tonne boulder is colloquially known as the “Big Rock,” but in Blackfoot it is Okotoks—the direct translation of the word “rocks.”

The erratic is a wildly impressive and imposing sight. However, there is more here than immediately meets the eye. For the Blackfoot, this is a location where the world began; where supernatural mischief-maker Napi was pursued by the rock as he traveled from south to north, creating the mountains and rivers.

Read more

It’s Métis Week!

Commemorated annually in Alberta, Métis Week remembers the efforts and execution of Louis Riel, while also celebrating the historical and contemporary achievements of Métis people working toward rights and recognition of their Nation.

Many of the historical resources, sites and museums across Alberta contain Métis connections and stories. As the owners and managers of many of these sites, the Heritage Division strives to foster partnerships and collaborations with community to ensure that these stories are told accurately and respectfully. We also recognize how significant it is when these heritage places are owned and managed by Indigenous peoples and communities themselves. In honour of Métis Week, we are pleased to share the work of the team at Métis Crossing, who recently celebrated the ground-breaking at their new gathering centre, slated to open next fall.

Métis Crossing is the first major Métis cultural interpretive centre in Alberta and began as a major initiative of the Métis Nation of Alberta. Their mission is to be a premiere center for Alberta Métis cultural interpretation, education, gatherings, and business development. The 512-acre site is designed to engage and excite visitors, and is comprised of river lot titles from the original Métis settlers who arrived in the late 1800’s. Their programming encourages active participation of visitors in activities that promote appreciation of Métis people, customs, and celebrations. Read more

Creating Connections: Paul First Nation History

Today, RETROactive is pleased to feature a community-created heritage project!

The Paul First Nation History website and Facebook page is the brainchild of Jaelin Rask. A Paul First Nation member who today lives on-reserve, Jaelin was raised primarily in Calgary, geographically and culturally-distanced from his Indigenous heritage. As an adult, Jaelin received a number of historical documents from his late paternal grandfather, David Bird (who served as Chief of Paul First Nation from 1952 to 1955), spurring his interest in genealogy and his father’s family history.

Jaelin Rask (Photo provided by: Jaelin Rask).

“Little by little” Jaelin’s document collection grew, aided by trips to the archives and conversations with community members. Word of his work travelled fast throughout the Nation, and Jaelin found his social media inboxes full of requests Read more

National Indigenous Peoples Day 2018

Aanii! Tânsi! Óki! Abawasded! Edlónat’e! Tawnshi! * Da Neh Chi?**

Tomorrow, the Historic Resources Management Branch is glad to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day. Held each year on June 21 and renamed last year from National Aboriginal Day, National Indigenous Peoples Day recognizes the historic and present-day contributions, success and cultures of First Nation, Inuit and Metis communities across Canada.

Edmonton is once again hosting the free-to-attend Indigenous Peoples Festival, this year in Victoria Park from 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM. The event includes a pow-wow, main stage concerts, artisan marketplace and food vendors. There are also events throughout the week at City Centre Mall, Edmonton International Airport and the Art Gallery of Alberta (free admission on June 21 for all visitors as well!).

In Calgary, there are performances, displays and workshops at both the National Music Centre’s Studio Bell and Arts Commons, or venture west to take in the parade in Canmore or an evening medicine walk at the Banff Centre with Metis guide Brenda Holder. In southern Alberta, Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump is offering special programming, with opportunities for guided tours, performances, food sampling, and story sharing with Blackfoot Elders.

There are celebrations in communities across the province: check this listing to find the gathering closest to you. Is your community hosting an event for National Indigenous Peoples Day? Leave a comment on this post with the details!

On this day, and all days, we express our gratitude to the Indigenous communities in Alberta that we have the privilege of learning from and working with. Your history, culture, stories, goals and perspectives make our understanding of Alberta’s heritage so much richer.

Written By: Laura Golebiowski, Aboriginal Consultation Adviser

* “Hello!” in Anishinaabemowin, Cree, Blackfoot, Nakoda, Dene and Michif

** “How are you” in Beaver

Title Image: Driftpile Cree Nation Pow Wow. Photo credit: Ron Ganzeveld, Government of Alberta.

Red Deer Industrial School Monument Unveiled

During the past three weeks the Spanish influenza has swept through this institution. I regret to report that as a result, five of our pupils are dead: Georgina House, Jane Baptiste, Sarah Soosay, David Lightning, William Cardinal…At the time the children died practically everyone was sick so that it was impossible for us to bury the dead. I thought the best thing to do was to have the undertaker from Red Deer take charge of and bury the bodies. This was done, and they now lie buried in Red Deer.”

These words, written by then-Principal Joseph F. Woodsworth to the department of Indian Affairs, now also appear in the Red Deer City Cemetery, on a monument commemorating the lives of four of the five young men and women who passed away on November 15 and 16, 1918, while attending Red Deer Industrial School[1]. Until now, their names and resting places within the Red Deer City Cemetery had remained largely unmarked and their stories untold. Read more

National Aboriginal Day 2017

Photo Credit: Travel Alberta/Sean Thonson

Happy National Aboriginal Day!

National Aboriginal Day was announced in 1996 by, then Governor General of Canada, Roméo LeBlanc on June 21st—the summer solstice. This week, and throughout the month of June, we recognize and celebrate the achievements and contributions of Indigenous Peoples in what is today known as Alberta and Canada. During this year of celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canadian confederation, it is particularly important to remember the First Peoples who came before, and the thriving, contemporary First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities that continue to shape our country today.

Edmontonians are invited for stew and bannock at the Bissell Centre from 10:00AM – 2:00PM, or enjoy the day-long Aboriginal Day Live festivities at Victoria Park.

Live in Calgary? The University of Calgary is hosting a campfire chat on St. Patrick’s Island, discussing Indigenous perspectives of the cosmos through traditional storytelling, or spend your Saturday at the Family Day Festival and Powwow at the Stampede grounds.

Events are taking place throughout the week and across the province. Join us in taking the time to connect with our community, learn from one another and reflect on what it means to be a Canadian and Treaty person during this summer of celebration.

Event Listings:

Indigenous Relations’ 2017 National Aboriginal Day Events in Alberta: http://indigenous.alberta.ca/documents/NAD-Events-Alberta-June-2017.pdf?0.1319647190237596

City of Edmonton’s National Aboriginal Day Community Events: https://www.edmonton.ca/attractions_events/schedule_festivals_events/national-aboriginal-day.aspx

Aboriginal Awareness Week Calgary: http://www.aawc.ca

Written By: Laura Golebiowski (Aboriginal Consultation Adviser)

National Aboriginal Day 2016

Photo Credit: Government of Alberta
Photo Credit: Government of Alberta

The Historic Resources Management Branch is privileged to work with and learn from Indigenous communities in Alberta. On June 21, we join Canadians nation-wide in celebrating National Aboriginal Day. Now in its 20th official year, National Aboriginal Day provides an opportunity for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples alike to come together in recognition of the histories, cultures and contributions of First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples in our province and across the country. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) has put together a great video to celebrate the 20th Anniversary.

Whether you take in a film at Edmonton’s Amiskwaciy History Series’ Film Festival, check out the festivities at Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump, visit the Friendship Centre in your community or commemorate the day in your own way, take the time to remember: we are all Treaty people.

A listing of 2016 National Aboriginal Day events in Alberta can be found here.

Written By: Laura Golebiowski, Aboriginal Consultation Advisor

Heritage Energized: HRMB at the National Trust Conference

Last month, the Historic Resources Management Branch had the opportunity to attend the National Trust for Canada’s annual conference, right here in our home province. Held October 22-24 in Calgary, the conference’s theme of “Heritage Energized” explored how heritage energy can turn places around, empower people and create opportunities.

Preceding the conference was Moh-Kins-Tsis: Calgary Indigenous Heritage Roundtable, a day-long session bringing together Elders and knowledge keepers with practitioners in the fields of heritage, archaeology, architecture and planning, to discuss how to protect Indigenous heritage sites in the urban environment.  Moderators Lorna Crowshoe (Aboriginal Issues Strategist, City of Calgary) and Makiinima—Roy Fox (Former Chief of the Kainai Nation) set the tone for the day by establishing the room as an “ethical space”—where groups with contrasting world views can come together in respectful, cooperative and collaborative ways. The audience then had the special opportunity to learn about Blackfoot ways of knowing from Elders Wilton Goodstriker, Herman Yellow Old Woman, Bruce Wolf Child, Andy Blackwater and Dr. Reg Crowshoe. These discussions were expanded upon by a number of professional and academic presenters.

The Crowfoot Young Warriors kick off Moh-Kins-Tsis: Calgary Indigenous Heritage Roundtable with drumming and song. Photo credit: Pinpoint Photography, courtesy of the National Trust for Canada.
The Crowfoot Young Warriors kick off Moh-Kins-Tsis: Calgary Indigenous Heritage Roundtable with drumming and song. Photo credit: Pinpoint Photography, courtesy of the National Trust for Canada.

The latter half of the day focused on the Paskapoo Slopes—an area in the city’s northwest rich in archaeological and cultural heritage and of high significance to the Blackfoot Nations. A panel composed Read more

National Aboriginal Day 2015

Photo Credit: Travel Alberta/Sean Thonson
Photo Credit: Travel Alberta/Sean Thonson

Sunday, June 21 marks National Aboriginal Day—an opportunity to take time to learn, acknowledge and celebrate the rich contributions Canada’s First Nations, Metis and Inuit have made to our country. Officially proclaimed in 1996, National Aboriginal Day is now recognized nation-wide as part of a series of Celebrate Canada days.

If you live in Edmonton, APTN’s  Aboriginal Day Live & Celebration will be hosted in Louise McKinney Park on Saturday, June 20 and additional community events will be held throughout the week.

Aboriginal Awareness Week Calgary’s theme this year is ‘Keeping the Circle Strong,’ with events taking place June 14 – 21. Additional events in Alberta are listed here.

Is your community hosting a National Aboriginal Day event? Share it with us in the comments below!

Written By: Laura Golebiowski, Aboriginal Consultation Advisor