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A Blackfoot reawakening is afoot

Some people are joining cultural and ceremonial groups and ensuring the revival of these ancestral traditions for, by and with their First Nations communities.

The rediscovery is largely attributable to the work of the First Nation Adult & Higher Education Consortium (FNAHEC), a PWRDF partner since 2000. FNAHEC brings together 11 Indigenous colleges in Alberta to provide post-secondary education to youth based on their cultural values and visions ensuring the preservation of Indigenous language and culture and the protection of traditional knowledge for the benefit of Indigenous community members.

In 2009 FNAHEC piloted an online First Nations study course which includes Cosmology, Blackfoot Epistemology and other Blackfoot Knowledge. These courses contribute to understanding among the Blackfoot people of their origins, culture, and language and developing positive self-concepts. Blackfoot knowledge is not readily available except through local oral histories facilitated by instructors who are called Knowledge Keepers and ceremonial bundle holders. An additional six courses were piloted in the 2016-2017 school year. FNAHEC has organized agreements to transfer the credits earned through these courses to mainstream institutions such as Athabasca University and the University of Calgary.

FNAHEC offered workshops to 1,100 people, who shared their knowledge and information with more than 2,200 indirect beneficiaries. A cumulative 7,800 people have been exposed to the teachings of FNAHEC. The students who took the courses, or are currently enrolled in onsite courses, expressed their gratitude for learning about their history and regaining some of the traditional Indigenous knowledge. The local community and regional government educational authorities have recognized FNAHEC as a point of reference in terms of Indigenous language, curriculum development and traditional knowledge.