The plan is to transfer about two hectares of land near Fort Calgary to the Indigenous Gathering Place Society.
Plans for an Indigenous gathering place in Calgary appear to be back on track after some turmoil earlier this year.
The city’s commitment to an Indigenous gathering place was first made in May 2020. The plan is to transfer approximately two hectares of land near Fort Calgary at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers to the Native Assembly Association.
The land will be used to create a place of healing where indigenous peoples can meet, connect and share traditional knowledge and teachings.
A report presented to the council in September was delayed for a full year, surprising members of the society.
John Fischer, co-chairman of the association, said his group felt they were not an equal partner in the discussions because they were not informed of the delay in advance.
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On Wednesday, the council’s executive committee heard how the city is taking steps to address these concerns.
Francois Bouchart, director of capital priorities and investment, said the city is working to build a more collaborative relationship with society.
“We need to listen, understand and then act, so we’ve added new members to our team,” he said. “We also undertook Indigenous awareness training to build on our collective understanding.”
He also said the end goal is more than just a simple land transfer, but rather is about preparing the site to be an indigenous gathering place.
Michelle Fournie, co-chair of the society, said she may have celebrated too early when the city and society agreed to create the gathering place.
“I initially thought the success of the IGP would be together at the opening festival,” she said. “But I now realize that that milestone is still short-sighted for the work we do together and its impact for future generations.”
Fournie said she was encouraged by the ongoing constructive discussions.
“An active, timely and transparent process that fosters authentic engagement is the only way forward,” she said.
Fischer said his group was open about their dismay in September, but they remain committed to the work ahead.
He said it was important to create the gathering place as quickly as possible.
“We look forward to promoting this work briskly and together, as Michelle indicated, it all needs to happen now so that the impact can be experienced by today’s elders and youth.”