South-Western Alberta Blackfoot Signage Project

Southwestern Alberta is the home and historical territory of the Blackfoot Confederacy, a group of nations that collectively make up the Blackfoot people. The confederacy includes the Blackfoot-speaking Káínai, Siksiká, and Pi’ikanni nations in southern Alberta who have called the region home for many generations.

Photo Credit: CTV News Calgary

The Blackfoot language was historically a spoken language without its own form of writing. However, after contact with European settlers and colonizers, the nations of the Confederacy began to create a system of writing for their language using adopted characters from the latin alphabet.

Formed as a partnership between the Kainaiwa, the SouthGrow Regional Initiative, Community Futures Lethbridge Region, Tourism Lethbridge, and Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance, this project aims to provide matching funding for the installation of Blackfoot language signage for communities, businesses, institutions, and more across the region, with the Kainaiwa providing the translation services needed to either inform applicants of their Blackfoot name or assign the proper Blackfoot translation to a location.

The goal is to provide a proof of concept and proof of demand for the installation of such signage across southwestern Alberta as a pilot for continued investment in this space.

The intention is for this signage to:

  1. Further the work of regional reconciliation in accordance with the recommendations included in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action (2015), particularly with respect to articles 13-17
  2. Add a layer of cultural and historical complexity to the landscape of Southern Alberta to invite residents and visitors to explore and learn about the deep history of the region that is unique in Canada.
  3. Create enthusiasm for more signage demand to assist in the re-funding of the program to deploy an increasing amount of signage.