In 2014, Chief Robert Joseph, through Reconciliation Canada facilitated a discussion and workshop in Calgary. Members of the community, corporations, non-profits, city representatives, and members of the public gathered to discuss the future of a reconciled Canada. With momentum and support, a community-driven initiative rooted in culturally appropriate spiritual guidance and tradition began, forming the concept of an Indigenous Gather Place and group of volunteers interested is seeing this vision through.
As we work toward answering the Truth and Reconciliation’s Call to Action #21 for an Indigenous Gathering/Healing place, we recognize this is one of many reconciliation efforts across the City to address the needs of Indigenous Peoples.
Many personal accounts, historical data and credited reports have seen a central gathering place in an urban centre foster healthy communities and cultural exchanges. In fact, Calgary is known for some of its central gathering places for citizens to meet. Current examples of these include community centres, plazas, churches, mosques, temples.
There is currently no central gathering place that serves Calgary’s Indigenous populations within the city, although Calgary resides on traditional territory and is home to many who identify as having Indigenous ancestry. Indigenous populations are one of the fastest growing populations in Canada.
There is an imminent need to provide a central gathering place for Indigenous Peoples’ current spiritual, emotional and otherwise well being, in addition to those whom support and want to learn about such narratives and experiences. It is necessary for Calgary to have an inclusive approach and recognizing the unique traditions, practices and needs for Indigenous Peoples residing within the City and surrounding areas.
There exists a need for a place designated and designed for Indigenous peoples' ceremonial and cultural purposes.
IGPSC is an independent, non-partisan society that does not act as a representative of any Nation. Instead we invite all Nations and Calgarians to join the decades-long vision for an Indigenous Gathering Place designed by and built for all Nations, where ceremonies, commemorations, cultural teachings and education can take place, indoors and on the land.
This project needs an address before we can begin the intensive design and development work. The City of Calgary is contemplating a land title transfer, which will achieve just that. In the meantime, we remain committed to inclusive involvement of all Nations in this ambitions project.
Since 2014 we have invited as many Elders, knowledge keepers, youth and story holders to the discussion learning what elements are important to those who would benefit from the space.
What we heard is that the place needs to be accessible by transit, centrally located and ceremonially appropriate. We also witness the stories of diverse communities through camps and trade at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers. Given the ongoing feedback from the Elders, we are keen on choosing land that is at or near this sacred place.
These are still early days. Pending the decision for a land transfer, the IGPSC had been encouraged by the interest in planning and imagining the building and use of space. All ideas are possibilities and we look forward to hearing from many more people as we advance the project.
Once the IGPSC secures a site for an Indigenous Gathering Place we can truly begin the intensive community engagement, design, development and fundraising process. It's early days, and much is uncertain until we have an address. In the meantime, we remain committed to inclusive involvement of all Nations in this ambitions project.
The IGPSC Is a registered non-profit society and relies on grants and donations to continue our work. We are in the process of becoming a registered charity so that we can offer tax receipts to donors.
If you would like to make a financial contribution to our efforts, please send an e-transfer to email@example.com. Donations received will be used to pay for honoraria and gifting for the guidance of Elders, marketing and communications, and costs associated with gathering as a community.
The IGPSC is a non-profit society that was incorporated in Alberta in 2018. In the fall of 2021, we submitted documentation via mail to the Canada Revenue Agency to become a registered charity. In December 2021, the CRA recognized our submission and issued us a Charity Number, which we understood to have completed the process of approval. We were notified that we were not listed on the charity registry and further inquired with the CRA. They have informed us our application has been completed and we are awaiting a full review and approval.
While the charitable status will help advance grant funding applications, we are able to continue to receive funds as a non-profit organization and are grateful to the many organizations and individuals who have contributed to the advancement of an Indigenous Gathering Place.
We hope that our lived experience navigating complex systems will help other non-profits as we share what we have learned.