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Zoo to work with Siksika First Nation to create training, education opportunities for Indigenous youth

Extreme cold caused Siksika Nation to declare a state of local emergency Saturday Extreme cold caused Siksika Nation to declare a state of local emergency Saturday

The Calgary Zoo teamed up with The Wilder Institute and tribal administration of the Siksika First Nation to sign a memo of understanding Tuesday that they hope will help build a stronger relationship that leads to more opportunities for Siksika people.

With a spirit of respect and reconciliation, the zoo acknowledged that it sits near the junction of the Bow and Elbow Rivers, on Blackfoot lands that were a traditional meeting place for Indigenous peoples for centuries that they called Mo-kins-tsis before Europeans arrived and changed the name to Calgary.

With the agreement signed Tuesday, the zoo and the Wilder Institute hope to build and nurture a strong relationship with members of the Siksika Nation.

"We are proud to partner with the Siksika Nation to integrate recognition of their long presence on these precious lands into our interpretive programs, particularly in the Canadian Wilds, and to create opportunities to advance understanding and reconciliation," said President and CEO Clément Lanthier. "By working together, we hope to honour the history of stewardship of the Siksika Nation, a member of the Blackfoot Confederacy."

Among the plans, the parties plan to hold an annual meeting that focuses on conservation programs for at-risk plants and animals on Blackfoot lands. They also plan to focus on creating jobs, training and educational opportunities for Siksika youth, with a focus on conservation.

"We look forward to building a relationship built on mutual respect and understanding. There is a lot we can learn from an organization such as the Calgary Zoo, and there is much traditional knowledge we can share with the Calgary Zoo, especially as it pertains to the lands and animals native to the area Calgary Zoo now calls home," said Chief Ouray Crowfoot.

"As we continue to build strong partnerships, it creates an atmosphere of growth and opportunities for our people. We are excited to see this partnership grow, for the betterment of the Siksika, Calgary Zoo, Calgarians and all Albertans." Top Stories

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