Fort Calgary renamed Confluence Historic Site and Park

The name of the Blackfoot site will be I’táámito’táaattsiiyio’pi, which translates to “harmonious meeting place.”

Article content

Fort Calgary, not anymore. In an act of reconciliation and rebranding, the museum and events center located in the birthplace of modern-day Calgary will henceforth be known as Confluence Historic Site and Parkland.

City of Calgary officials and the facility’s board of directors joined Blackfoot elders Thursday to announce Fort Calgary’s new name and logo, as well as a plan to reinvent the museum’s exhibits to reflect a more complete vision of the history of the region.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Article content

President Jen Thompson said the reimagined brand, which was determined after 15 months of community engagement with more than 1,500 community members and stakeholders, aims to “expand the narrative” of Calgary’s history and recognize the stories of the original caretakers of the area.

“Over the last few years, Fort Calgary has tried to cultivate relationships and I think they’ve been quite successful in helping to tell more diverse and more truthful stories about this place,” he told a crowd of about 100 people gathered at the facility. Burnswest Theatre.

“People want us to be a place that sheds light on the truth of history. “They want to hear more stories from history, including those of indigenous people, settlers, the North West Mounted Police, newcomers and the land itself.”

Recommended by Editorial

Thompson argued that the prevailing narrative of the museum and events center “can no longer begin and end in the year 1875,” when the North West Mounted Police first arrived.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

“Certainly what we’ve heard from members of the Indigenous community is that they didn’t feel represented in the history of the fort and the stories that were told here in the past,” Thompson said.

“Growing up, I am sure you will agree that we were not taught the names of the indigenous people of this territory that we occupy.”

The Blackfoot name for the site will be I’táámito’táaattsiiyio’pi, which translates to “harmonious meeting place.” The name was given by Blackfoot elder Leonard Bastien Weasel Traveler on Thursday morning.

Winston Wadsworth
Indigenous artist Winston Wadsworth works on creating the first images of a winter count as a gift to Fort Calgary to celebrate the site’s renaming as Confluence Historic Site and Park during a ceremony on Thursday, May 2, 2024. A count Winter is a pictorial record painted on an animal skin that represents the events of each year. Gavin Young/Postmedia

‘About adding voices’ rebrand

Built by the North Western Mounted Police in 1875, the original Fort Calgary was erected at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers. The fort stood for more than 125 years until it burned in 2003.

For decades, the site has operated as a local history museum and events center, welcoming more than 11,000 visitors and hosting 214 events in 2023.

To date, many of the facility’s exhibits and artifacts have focused on Calgary’s history of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, following the establishment of the fort and municipal incorporation in 1884.

Advertisement 4

Article content

The decision to move away from the Fort Calgary name “wasn’t about erasing history,” Thompson said, adding that the site’s previous elements will remain in place.

“Certainly from the street you can still see Colonel McLeod and the replica barracks,” he said. “It’s about adding voices that were removed when we immortalized the fort.”

Jennifer Thompson
Fort Calgary President Jennifer Thompson was photographed with some of the new markings following the announcement of the site’s renaming to Confluence Historic Site and Parkland during a ceremony on Thursday, May 2, 2024. Gavin Young/Postmedia

New exhibition

In addition to the new name, Confluence Historic Site and Parkland will also embark on creating a new exhibit that better reflects Indigenous history.

Star Crop Eared Wolf, who was hired as Fort Calgary’s in-house curator in November, will work to reimagine 900 square feet of the museum’s exhibits, replacing much of the current content in the cultural center that has been on display since 2001.

Crop Eared Wolf, a multidisciplinary artist and member of the Kainai Nation, said the new exhibit will be called Ki’pait’apiiyssinnooni, which means “our way of life” in Blackfoot.

The life-size exhibit, inspired by the design of a Blackfoot lodge, will pay tribute to the history and traditions of the Blackfoot, Stoney Nakoda, Tsuut’ina and Métis cultures, while recognizing the North Western Mounted Police and history from Calgary. industrialization.

Advertisement 5

Article content

“I want the exhibition to honor our ancestors and at the same time encourage and instill pride in present and future generations. . . (of) the Blackfoot people,” he said. “The Blackfeet, as well as other indigenous peoples, have been portrayed throughout history as a disappearing race. However, as we know, this is not true.”

Crop Eared Wolf noted that in Blackfoot culture, new names are considered a sign of growth and maturation.

Star-eared wolf
Fort Calgary Curator Star Crop Eared Wolf describes the new Blackfoot Interpretive Area that will be part of the site’s renaming to Confluence Historic Site and Parkland during a ceremony on Thursday, May 2, 2024. Gavin Young/Postmedia

Mayor Jyoti Gondek, who was also at the event Thursday, called “Confluence” an appropriate name for the historic site.

“We know it literally means the place where two rivers meet, two rivers like the Bow and the Elbow, but it’s much more than that,” he said. “The geography here makes it a natural place to gather. It is an easy place to describe and locate.”

An open house to celebrate the new name and welcome visitors will be held at the Confluence Historic Site and Parkland on May 26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Article content

Leave a Comment