Oct. 18, 2019

Xakiji (Chief) Lee Crowchild to speak on building relationships and business in a good way

Indigenous Knowledge Public Lecture Series focuses on large-scale land development Oct. 24

In 2022, Calgary’s landscape will change dramatically with the realization of a south and west ring road, joining both ends of Stoney Trail to service the circumference of the city. Years and millions of dollars in the making, the Tsuut’ina Nation reached an agreement with the Government of Alberta in 2013 to transfer over 1,000 acres of reserve lands to the development of the road.

Today, Xakiji (Chief) Lee Crowchild, a third generation Xakiji of the Tsuut’ina Nation, is making more big plans, and will speak about them on Oct. 24 as part of ii’ taa’poh’to’p’s Indigenous Knowledge Public Lecture Series. Presented by ii’ taa’poh’to’p and the Westman Centre for Real Estate Studies at the Haskayne School of Business, the talk will unpack the complexities of municipal partnerships on large-scale land development projects.

“Engaging university students and community partners in a learning opportunity such as this is a priority for the Westman Centre for Real Estate Studies,” say Jessica Abt, director. “The real estate industry is evolving. I believe the Tsuut’ina Nation development will demonstrate how leadership, collaboration and building strong relationships are critical to the success of all new developments.”

Aligning with the path to reconciliation

“The first thing all development projects need to think about before they make a proposal to a First Nation, is, ‘How is this working in accordance with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)’s 94 Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)?’” says Crowchild. “If they can’t speak to that, then we won’t move forward.”

Considering municipal and Indigenous priorities, Crowchild has navigated plans for Taza one of the largest First Nations developments in North America. Located on the eastern edge of the Tsuut’ina Nation, the impressive 500-hectare project aims to be a bustling business, lifestyle, shopping, and entertainment destination.

“We’re in the business of making business,” says Crowchild. “The idea is to create business opportunities for anyone to come out there, giving potential to grow both the Calgary economy and the Tsuut’ina Nation’s economy.”

Learning to be teachers

But collaboration and development on this scale hasn’t been easy. Negotiating Indigenous and colonial perspectives involves dialogue and learning on both sides. “It’s been good for us, because it’s made us become teachers,” he says. “It’s also been an important learning for the nation we’re developing policies and ways of doing things so everyone is informed and understands Tsuut’ina’s principals.”

According to Crowchild, provincial and federal partnerships to develop land on reserves will be on the rise in coming years with the growing Indigenous youth population, and demand for on-reserve jobs and support organizations. The ambitious Taza development will set an example for the rest of the country.

“All of Canada is looking at how we can move this forward and how collaboration can happen. It’ll only bring more success as we’re going along,” says Crowchild.

Hear more from Xakiji Lee Crowchild on Oct. 24, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the City Building Design Lab (616 Macleod Trail, SE). The talk is free and all are welcome.

ii’ taa’poh’to’p, the University of Calgary’s Indigenous Strategy, is a commitment to deep evolutionary transformation by reimagining ways of knowing, doing, connecting and being. Walking parallel paths together, ‘in a good way,’ UCalgary is moving toward genuine reconciliation and Indigenization.

Learn more about their 2019-20 Indigenous Knowledge Public Lecture Series.