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Mount Royal University shares in Indigenous tradition of tipi blessing

Mount Royal’s new tipi received a ceremonial blessing Wednesday as the University acknowledged the symbolic and cultural significance of its traditional lodge. 

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Elder Miiksika'am (Clarence Wolfleg), stands with Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs and student Latasha Calf Robe of the Blood Reserve at a ceremonial blessing for Mount Royal University's new tipi.

John Fischer, Director of the Iniskim Centre of Mount Royal University, recognized the canvas structure offers much more than shelter from the elements. Each pole, pin and stake relates to a story or teaching shared as part of Indigenous education.

“Raising a tipi on campus is symbolically important,” said Fischer. “It symbolizes both the strength of Indigenous peoples and communities as well as Mount Royal’s commitment to supporting the resurgence of Indigenous knowledge and culture — particularly within education.”

The Honourable Dr. Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, joined Mount Royal community members on the front lawn of the University where the seven-metre tipi was set up.

Minister Bennett received the Blackfoot name of “Aaksistowaki,” meaning courageous woman, from Elder Miiksika'am (Clarence Wolfleg).

Elder Miiksika'am began the event with a smudging ceremony, using the smoke from sweetgrass to cleanse the space. He then led prayer to strengthen the connection between the Blackfoot-style tipi and its place on campus.

Following the ceremony, guests were offered Saskatoon berry soup, in keeping with the tradition of sharing a meal during the dedication of a home. Mount Royal student Darcy Turning Robe of the Siksika Nation drummed the Honour Song, and a round dance was held.

Mount Royal is located in Treaty 7 Territory, the homelands of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) Nations of Piikani, Kainai and Siksika, the T'suut'ina Nation and the Nakoda Nation. The University also recognizes the Métis and Inuit Peoples.

Under its Indigenous Strategic Plan, the University is committed to respecting and embracing Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing, integrating Indigenous teachings and practices and honouring Indigenous experiences and identities.

More information on the Indigenous Strategic Plan is available at mtroyal.ca/IndigenousMountRoyal

For further information, please contact:

Bryan Weismiller, Communications Officer Mount Royal University
Cell: 403.978.1365
Media cell: 403.463.6930
mediarelations@mtroyal.ca