(Edmonton) – The City of Edmonton and the Indigenous Knowledge & Wisdom Centre (IKWC) officially opened kihcihkaw askî-Sacred Land — Canada’s first-of-its-kind urban Indigenous ceremony grounds.
kihcihkaw askî, meaning “sacred land” in Cree, provides a natural setting for the Indigenous community to host ceremonies, sweatlodges, facilitate intergenerational learning, and build and maintain good relations. It is located in Whitemud Park at 14141 Fox Drive NW, Edmonton.
“It is an honour to have the first urban Indigenous ceremony site in Canada located in Treaty No. 6,” said Grand Chief Leonard Standingontheroad. “I hope all Indigenous Peoples use the site to connect to their homelands and own traditions.”
“We are proud to have played a role in building the first permanent urban Indigenous cultural and ceremony grounds of its kind in Canada,” said Mayor Amarjeet Sohi. “Through this partnership with the Indigenous Knowledge & Wisdom Centre, kihcihkaw askî will be a safe place for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to access and share knowledge within Edmonton.”
The project included naturalization of the site and building infrastructure to support programming and cultural activities led by the Indigenous Knowledge & Wisdom Centre. The site includes a circular area for up to eight sweatlodges and two permanent fire enclosures to heat the stones for sweatlodge ceremonies. There is also a circular area for tipis, including a permanent feast fire pit for ceremonies and small group workshops. A pavilion with washrooms, locker rooms and a gathering room was also constructed, along with a storage building featuring a built-in outdoor amphitheatre.
The $6.51 million project started construction in 2021 following a ground blessing and several years of engagement, planning and design. The kihcihkaw askî Elders Counsel was formed to work with the project team throughout design and construction, and continues to meet to provide spiritual and cultural counsel for the site and programming.
The Indigenous Knowledge & Wisdom Centre (IKWC) manages and operates the facility.
The location of kihcihkaw askî is historically and culturally significant and has served as a ceremonial and gathering site in the past. Long before becoming farmland, the area around kihcihkaw askî was used for many centuries by the Indigenous people harvesting medicines for healing purposes. Ochre, a rare mineral also found close to the site, was and continues to be used in spiritual and traditional ceremonies.
The City’s journey to strengthen and build relationships with Indigenous Peoples is guided by the concept of wâhkôhtowin, as demonstrated through the Indigenous Framework.
The Indigenous Knowledge & Wisdom Centre is also hosting a public open house tomorrow, Saturday, September 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration is required. Please visit the Indigenous Knowledge & Wisdom Centre’s Facebook page to learn more or register here.