BANFF – The Town of Banff is planning to host a special event on National Indigenous Peoples Day.
June 21, 2021, was the national 25th anniversary of celebrating the heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people and Banff hopes to build on the celebration with an annual local event.
Banff’s elected officials unanimously gave a nod of approval to a $12,000 budget during service review deliberations on Wednesday (Dec. 1), which would allow the municipality to begin planning for the inaugural event to include Indigenous performers, interpreters and storey-tellers.
Town of Banff officials say they will seek guidance from and collaboration with Indigenous peoples in the Banff region to plan a June 21 local event, which could potentially run into Canada Day celebrations on July 1.
“The most important thing is we wouldn’t plan anything in isolation,” said Jason Darrah, the Town of Banff’s director of communications and marketing.
“We would seek input and direction from Indigenous peoples within Banff, within Banff National Park and neighbouring communities to program an event that would be celebratory in nature.”
In cooperation with Indigenous organizations, the federal government in 1996 chose June 21 for National Aboriginal Day, which is now known as National Indigenous Peoples Day. For generations, many Indigenous peoples and communities have celebrated their culture and heritage on or near this day due to the significance of the summer solstice as the longest day of the year.
Darrah said the creation of a local event also speaks to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action.
Specifically, he said the Town of Banff would help support Action 45 iii by renewing and establishing Treaty relationships based on mutual recognition, respect and shared responsibility.
“The work towards facilitating an event in Banff would contribute to the valuable dialogue on the path to creating a framework for continuous Indigenous relations,” he said.
The Town of Banff would also seek to work with local organizations such as the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum, the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, the Banff Centre and Banff & Lake Louise Tourism (BLLT).
“This would be a starting point for growing a celebration of Indigenous Peoples comparable to the activities for Canada Day, which has a $114,000 budget,” he said.
Mayor Corrie DiManno voiced strong support for such an event.
“I like the spirit and intent of this event and I am very glad it’s going to be in collaboration with our Indigenous neighbours and with other local organizations,” she said.
The mayor said the special event also would provide opportunities for residents to engage, listen and learn.
“I think this event is a nice way to celebrate and I think our residents are looking for that,” she said.
The governance and finance committee also tentatively approved ongoing funding for the event in the operating budget to the tune of $16,000 in 2023 and $20,000 in 2024. However, administration is also seeking grants.
During service review, the committee can renege on any decisions but that is unlikely in this case given there was unanimous consent and the price tag is modest in an overall multi-million dollar operating budget.