For thousands of years, people have visited and lived in the river valley. They did not have today's names or political boundaries. They were many peoples. Their legacy needs to be respected and honoured as the original people of this place.
I would like to see the old EPCOR Power Plant turned into a Powerhouse of Indigenous Arts and Culture. The space would include all indigenous groups and be run by indigenous people. It would be a national showpiece of the most advanced indigenized City in Canada. It would include rotating arts and heritage content from all periods since indigenous people settled in this region after the glaciers receded. Imagine the rich stories and imagery, inspiring today's artists and cultural practitioners, who would be working and creating in the facility. Imagine a building vastly different than the one there today. One enhanced with the addition of glass, colour, light and sound would take its place.
If it sounds like a $100M project, then good for you. I like your vision. It can happen. The 76,000 plus indigenous people in the capital region deserve no less. The project will benefit the 1.3M people in this region and be a magnet for the almost eight million annual tourist visits to Edmonton (Government of Alberta, 2015 report).
Further, the City can enhance its arts soul by linking the new facility to organizations that want to create or enhance their arts programs. Some post-secondary institutions do not yet have an indigenous art class or program offering. As the heart of this activity, the Powerhouse can use newly created "arteries" to connect the entire body of this great city.
Such a place would bring much indigenous activity to the City, including Chiefs meetings, conferences and scholarly work. Inevitably, the Powerhouse would bring all people together, as they learn about 5,000 years of life and art in this region, not just the last two hundred and twenty-three years, since the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company built their forts in the valley.
The project could also allow for the inclusion of a Keeping House, which houses, protects, curates and studies, but does not own, indigenous artifacts. They would "keep" them for families and other organizations.
The site of the Power Plant is on or near a site of one of the Fort Edmonton locations, which would have had indigenous encampments nearby. Some artifacts have been found in the valley that are over 3,000 years old and settlement along the valley goes back over 5,000 years. Its the perfect site to be reclaimed by indigenous people.
Lastly, the City has the indigenous people to create, build and operate this vision. Together, they will feel their power.
Reconciliation will take generations. We need bold strokes to repaint the canvass of the relationship with indigenous Canadians.
Imagine the art. Imagine the music. Imagine the history. Imagine the power!