Tsuut’ina na­tion speaks out on con­tro­ver­sial Bow­fort Tow­ers, and of­fers some ex­per­tise for the fu­ture

First Na­tion adds voice to cho­rus of crit­i­cism, of­fers ex­per­tise

Calgary Sun - - NEWS - ANNA JUNKER @JunkerAnna ajunker@post­media.com

Tsuut’ina First Na­tion is crit­i­ciz­ing the city for not hav­ing In­dige­nous con­sul­ta­tion in the con­tro­ver­sial Bow­fort Tow­ers public art project, while of­fer­ing as­sis­tance mov­ing for­ward.

The sculp­ture — four tow­ers of steel beams cradling Run­dle rock — was un­veiled Aug. 3 and al­most im­me­di­ately be­came con­tro­ver­sial. Many are voic­ing con­cerns over the $500,000 to­tal price tag, the lo­ca­tion along the Trans-Canada High­way on the city’s west side, lack of lo­cal tal­ent, and the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the piece and tra­di­tional Black­foot burial struc­tures.

Tsuut’ina Na­tion weighed in on the con­tro­versy Tues­day af­ter­noon, say­ing they waited un­til now to have the time to thought­fully re­view the ex­hibit and its back­ground.

“Tsuut’ina be­lieves that at­tempt­ing to re­flect First Na­tions art or sym­bol­ism in the ab­sence of col­lab­o­ra­tion with lo­cal First Na­tions artists and elders is not re­flec­tive of other re­cent steps by Cal­gary City Hall to re­spect Treaty 7 Na­tions,” Kevin Lit­tle­light, spokesman for Tsuut’ina, said in a news re­lease. “These steps have in­cluded progress on ex­e­cut­ing on the terms of the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion and the rais­ing of Treaty 7’s flag at City Hall. Tsuut’ina will gladly sup­ply elders and cul­tural ex­perts to as­sist in de­ter­min­ing what the next steps are for this ex­hibit — an ex­hibit that is caus­ing se­ri­ous con­cern among both First Na­tions and non-First Na­tions peo­ple in Cal­gary and area.”

Chief Joseph Weasel Child of Sik­sika First Na­tion said he will ad­dress the is­sue in an up­com­ing meet­ing with Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi, which was sched­uled be­fore the un­veil­ing of the art­work. He also plans to meet with other Black­foot chiefs be­fore ad­dress­ing the is­sue pub­licly.

Eve­lyn Good Striker with the city’s Abo­rig­i­nal Ur­ban Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, which has pro­vided the city with an 84-page In­dige­nous Pol­icy Frame­work, said the com­mit­tee was not con­sulted at any time dur­ing the cre­ation of the lat­est public art­work.

Madeleine King, chair of the public art board, said when the call for pro­pos­als went out in 2015, the board con­firmed the ap­pro­pri­ate process had been gone through.

“Our in­put was this was a very sig­nif­i­cant gate­way wel­com­ing peo­ple into Cal­gary and so we hoped that great care would be taken over the public art,” said King.

When asked if the Black­foot peo­ple were con­sulted dur­ing that process, King said to her un­der­stand­ing, there def­i­nitely was “some sort of con­sul­ta­tion,” but she does not know “the na­ture of it, who, or how many, or over what pe­riod of time.”

In the mean­time, city hall has so far de­clined to com­ment on the con­tro­versy. On Satur­day, Nen­shi told Post­media he would pro­vide com­ments on Tues­day. How­ever, the mayor was un­avail­able on Tues­day.

Tsuut’ina be­lieves that at­tempt­ing to re­flect First Na­tions art or sym­bol­ism in the ab­sence of col­lab­o­ra­tion with lo­cal First Na­tions artists and elders is not re­flec­tive of other re­cent steps by Cal­gary City Hall to re­spect Treaty 7 Na­tions.” Kevin Lit­tle­light, tsuut’ina spokesman

GAviN YoUNG/post­mediA

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