Gateway Gazette

Blackfoot Blessing Ceremony in Waterton Lakes National Park

Blackfoot First Nations give traditional blessing at Waterton Lakes National Park and honour two Parks Canada’s team members with traditional names

Berries in smudge box

Across the country, Parks Canada and Indigenous peoples are partners in conserving, restoring, and presenting Canada’s natural and cultural heritage. Friday, Parks Canada was honoured to host a traditional Blackfoot blessing ceremony by Kainai and Piikani First Nations in Waterton Lakes National Park. The blessing ceremony is a traditional event and a way to give thanks for the past, present, and future.

Mr Bruce Wolf Child performs blessing

The blessing ceremony highlights the physical, cultural, and spiritual significance of Waterton Lakes National Park for the Blackfoot Confederacy, as part of their traditional territory, and recognized the impact of the 2017 Kenow Wildfire on the land and the courageous efforts of Parks Canada and their many partners in managing the fire. The event also included a naming ceremony for two Parks Canada team members as a reflection of the expanding working relationship between Waterton Lakes National Park and the Blackfoot. The ceremony included representatives from Kainai, Piikani, Siksika, and Blackfeet Nations, as well as representatives from Parks Canada, Glacier National Park (U.S.A), and local community groups.

Patrick Black Plume, fire-keeper for sacred society

Waterton Lakes National Park is part of the traditional territory and a place of significance for the Blackfoot (Niitsitapi). The land, water, air, animals, and plants are all interconnected with significant meaning, and are woven together into the fabric of contemporary Blackfoot life. Parks Canada is working closely with Kainai and Piikani First Nations to jointly develop interpretive programming that will provide opportunities for visitors to learn about Blackfoot culture, history, and connection to Waterton Lakes National Park.

Jim Lambe, Parks Canada, and Mr Wilton Goodstriker

Waterton Lakes National Park currently features a robust Indigenous program offer, and we invite visitors to participate in one of our Blackfoot interpretive programs this summer. Parks Canada very much values the relationship with the Blackfoot, and will continue to work closely with Kainai and Piikani First Nations on matters relating to the management of Waterton Lakes National Park.

Round Dance

Quick Facts

  • The Government is committed to reconciliation and renewed relationships with Indigenous peoples, based on a recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.
  • Parks Canada works with more than 300 Indigenous communities and organizations across Canada in conserving, restoring, and presenting Canada’s natural and cultural heritage. Parks Canada is committed to developing a system off national heritage places that recognizes the role of Indigenous peoples in Canada and in the traditional use of these special places.
  • Waterton Lakes National Park is open to visitors. When planning your visit, remember that the Kenow Wildfire of 2017 has impacted the park in a number of ways. The fire affected 38% of Waterton Lakes National Park, including 50% of the park’s vegetation. There continue to be many recreation opportunities for visitors to experience in Waterton Lakes National Park, however some areas of the Park remain closed as a result of hazards. A full list of what is available, along with information on recreational opportunities is available on our website to help visitors plan their trip. Additional details on the 2018 visitor offer will be provided in the near future.
  • The Kenow wildfire has revealed previously unknown archeological evidence of the traditional Indigenous presence on the land. Together with local Indigenous partners, Parks Canada will examine these findings to develop a richer understanding of Blackfoot history in the area.

Related Links

Parks Canada

Waterton Lakes National Park

Parks Canada mobile application

Kainai First Nation

Piikani Nation

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