Bronze sculptures honour Indigenous legacy

Summer 2023

Many people have been noticing the five anonymously donated bronze sculptures called “Îethka Stoney Grandmother’s Teachings” which appeared in Nose Creek Regional Park last week.

The sculptures depict a setting in 1909, when Airdrie was established, with a grandmother sharing her traditional knowledge of local vegetation with her grandchildren.

Airdrie is located on the traditional home of the Blackfoot Confederacy, the Tsuut’ina Nation, Stoney-Nakoda Nations and the People of Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3, and this artwork honours the Indigenous Peoples who have been in a relationship with this land since time immemorial and continue to live in the City of Airdrie and its surrounding rural districts.

“Nose Creek Regional Park was purposely chosen as the location for these sculptures due to its historical ties for Treaty 7 as well as Métis Nation of Alberta,” said Adrian Pruden, MNA member and co-chair of the Circle Connections for Reconciliation Society. “Circle Connections for Reconciliation Society were happy to be involved in the consultation process for these monuments, alongside Elders Bruce and Deanna Starlight from Tsuut’ina Nation, Elders Virgil Stevens, Phillomene Stevens, and Knowledge Keepers Ollie Benjamin and Tracey Stevens from Stoney Nakoda, Elder Lance Scout from Kainai Nation, Blackfoot Confederacy, Elder George Pambrun, Knowledge Keeper and Indigenous Advisor Pam Lashmore from the Métis Nation, and longtime Airdrie resident and Blackfoot Elder Carolla Fox Hanley.”

Indigenous consultation refined many elements of the project, including the addition of the dog that typically accompanied women when gathering natural medicines, which can still be found today in Nose Creek Park.

“We’re proud to display these sculptures that offer a glimpse of the cultural heritage of this area,” said Mayor Peter Brown. “On behalf of Council, we are grateful to the Airdrie family who graciously initiated and funded this project and to the Elders and Knowledge-Keepers who generously assisted with this project to ensure the artwork is an accurate depiction of an indigenous culture that worked, lived and played on this location, for thousands of years. My hope also is that this artwork serves as a visual reminder of the welcoming and inclusive municipality our community is striving to be and Airdrie’s desire to embrace truth and reconciliation.”

The concept of the sculptures was a collaborative effort between the donor, Elders and Knowledge Keepers and award-winning artists, Don and Shirley Begg of Studio West Bronze Foundry in Cochrane, Alberta The estimated value of this donation is over $300,000.

A ground blessing ceremony attended by Mayor Brown, City Councillors and community members was performed by Elders on National Indigenous Peoples Day to welcome the sculptures to Airdrie. There will be a dedication ceremony for this project upon its completion on September 30, in conjunction with the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.

For information on more public art projects that took place this summer, pick up a copy of our Fall issue on stands the week of September 7.