Edmonton will soon be home to a natural setting for the Indigenous community to host ceremonies and sweat lodges, and facilitate intergenerational learning.
The City is is set to build a cultural site in Whitemud Park.
Construction on Kihciy Askiy, which means “Sacred Land” in Cree, is set to begin sometime this fall, and will take approximately 18 to 24 months before it’s opened to the public, according to the City of Edmonton website.
A ground-blessing ceremony was held in September.
The project is a partnership between the City and the Indigenous Knowledge and Wisdom Centre, and will cost approximately $4.5 million.
The cultural site is anticipated to have the following:
- A circular area for four sweat lodges and a permanent ceremonial stone heating device with a water source
- Circular area for tipis with permanent feast fire pit for ceremonies and small group workshops
- Large tent gathering area for ceremonial feasts and cultural teachings
- Kihciy Askiy pavilion with washrooms, locker rooms, gathering room and storage for ceremonial items
- 50 gravel parking stalls
- Two gravel bus parking stalls
- Six-metre wide gravel road with turnaround for emergency response vehicles, a permanent ceremonial stone heating device with water source and regrading/seeding of the grassed ceremonial area
The city says additional construction will also include a storage building with a built-in amphitheatre as well as additional landscaping and additional walking paths.
In its development permit, it’s stated that long before becoming farmland, Kihciy Askiy was used for many centuries by the Indigenous people foraging for medicines for healing purposes.
Ochre, a rare mineral, is also found close to the site and was used in spiritual and traditional ceremonies.