Special Edition: Today we discuss how Calgary is honouring Indigenous Peoples this week; spotlight local Indigenous-owned businesses; learn about the economic prosperity of ‘Taza’— and more!
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Good Morning Calgary,

Today is National Indigenous Peoples Day and the start of Aboriginal Awareness Week Calgary, so we’ve put together a special edition of the Calgary Citizen. We’ve compiled some important pieces that spotlight the stories of Indigenous Calgarians while showcasing how the Calgary community is celebrating and honouring these special dates throughout the city.

Today — and every day — we are committed to making Calgary Citizen a collaborative and inclusive space that fosters community and transformation as we reimagine a better future for Calgary.

— The Calgary Citizen Team

Photo of two young reporters standing side by side smiling.
Above, the elders of the Tsuut’ina nation photographed at the blessing ceremony when Costco, the first tenant in the Taza development opened its doors — marking the symbolic moment that ‘something wondrous is coming.’ 📷 Taza Development Corp. // Submitted
Seeing is believing for the people of the Tsuut’ina Nation


Over 50 years in the making: Taza Development Corp and Tsuut’ina Nation continue to work towards empowerment and economic prosperity through ‘Taza.’

The Tsuut’ina Nation has been working for over 50 years to transform their land in a way that would spark economic development and innovative advancements for their people. On August 28, 2020, Costco opened its doors as the first tenant of the Taza development in the ‘Shops at Buffalo Run’ retail centre – marking a pivotal moment of growth and future prosperity for the nation.

As one of the largest First Nation development projects in North America, the legacy of Taza prioritizes environmental social governance, while creating strategic partnerships that focus on building economic self-sufficiency of the community.

"We want to break down those barriers, whether they’re visible or not, and provide members of the nation the tools and support they need to become entrepreneurs, grow through opportunities, and really get their feet under them," says Bryce Starlight VP of development at Taza Development Corp and Tsuut’ina representative.

People first, reconciliation second

As Canderel and Tsuut’ina celebrate the 5-year milestone of their burgeoning partnership that produced Taza Development Corp., they know it’s important to keep a clear eye on their objectives as this historical development unfolds.

"We need to take care of our people first," Starlight tells us. He adds that generating revenue and opportunities are at the forefront of their big picture goals, and creating reconciliation is secondary.

"We have to look at it from the lens of ‘we’re doing this for the Tsuut’ina people and whatever models, whatever solutions happen as a result of that — that’s the reconciliation that happens, but it’s not our primary focus."

Let’s dive in…

The inception of the ring road and even with the ring road vote, a lot of the rationale for nation members to say ‘yes’ was that it would kick off a new way or a new type of development that the community couldn’t get initiated without it, Starlight explains.

However, with the reward of Taza, the ring road is still contentious — no matter what the rationale was.

"It was never really about the money, it was more a feeling that we were going to be pushed aside by a large city and the nation had no say in it," says Starlight. "By doing the development and creating a harder edge where we actually control those lands and we control the economy there, it actually helps us feel like we’re empowered to take control of our own destiny and not be told what to do."

To bring Taza to life, the nation scoured through over 40 developers as they searched for a genuine partnership that included equity in the development and a direct participatory role, Starlight explains.

"Canderel really came through and led the pack in that respect. Since then it’s been five years of master planning, working alongside each other to free up some of those encumbrances that were set up by the Indian Act to get to the point where we’re at today.

Behind the name ‘Taza’

As with every detail, Starlight and his team are in constant dialogue with the nation to get things right and maintain the overall goals of the nation through the development.

"For the name, we wanted to find something short and punchy — and if you know the Tsuut’ina language it’s anything but," Starlight says. "So we eventually came across this word ‘Taza’, which means ‘wow, something amazing is coming.’"

As part of their due diligence, they took the name back to a group of elders — who in the beginning had never heard of the word at all. Starlight tells us that they brought in one of the brothers who is a language expert in the nation to decipher where the word had come from.

After much deliberation, Starlight’s uncle proceeded to explain the story that they had been referring to.

He said that it’s a very old word. The word itself means wonders, but when a kid looked up into the sky, it was something that was beyond words — something beyond reckoning was coming. It was so wonderful that he couldn't even fathom what exactly it could be.

"As we were listening to the story, my team and I were like ‘oh my god, this is exactly what we’re doing — we can’t even comprehend what we’re doing because it’s so amazing and so wondrous’ and it was then we knew that this was the right word," Starlight says.

Starlight’s uncle gifted the word "Taza" to use for the development.

Costco led the way in saying ‘something amazing is coming’

Through everything from hiring almost a third of their staff from the nation to opening up their policies to the community, Starlight tells us that they were the ones that really helped get this off the ground and establish that credibility within the Calgary market.

"Even up to the day that Costco opened, I think the Tsuut’ina people always had this sense of ‘is this really going to happen.’"

A fair statement for a nation that had been told for the last 20 to 30 years that a group would come in and do all these amazing things, and then nothing ever happens.

"So for us, our major goal wasn’t getting the last store opened, or getting halfway — it was that first one," Starlight says. "Until we can actually show some tangible proof that we are going to deliver on what we say and that we’re actually developing something that allows for future continuous growth, then the nation has every right and responsibility to be skeptical of how we’re implementing things."  

"Now that we've got Costco open, there's a lot more understanding that this doesn't happen overnight, but also that there is a purpose and momentum here."

What’s next?

Starlight tells us that The ‘Shops at Buffalo Run’ is targeted to open by late 2022 with a full opening in 2023. Taza Park and Eagle Landing, two additional retail centres at Taza will also be announcing anticipated open dates while securing tenants in those spaces over the next few weeks.

🐶  Calgary's first victim assistance dog has hung up his collar and turned in his badge to start his new life of retirement: Hawk joined the team in 2013 and over the course of his career, he supported both children and adult victims. Hawk was the first victim support dog in Canada to be legally recognized. Two new dogs — Calibri and Webber — have taken his spot while Hawk has been adopted by his last handler.

😷   On Friday, Premier Kenney announced that Alberta had hit the 70% vaccination threshold to allow the province to fully reopen on July 1: This means 70% of the province 12+ has received at least one dose. There will be no ban on indoor gatherings, and the general indoor mask mandate, along with all remaining restrictions will be lifted. Albertans 12+ are also now eligible to book their second dose.

🚨  A Calgary police dog bit a bystander on the weekend while responding to a call: The incident happened on Saturday when the police canine unit was responding to the high-risk arrest of five suspects in a liquor store robbery. While chasing the suspects, the dog bit a bystander, which resulted in soft tissue injuries. The five suspects were apprehended, and police are reviewing the incident.

  • 1,005 active / 94,154 total
  • 5 new deaths / 697 deaths total / 107 in hospital / 26 in ICU
Alberta (updates)
  • 100 new cases / 2,127 active / 231,359 total
  • 10 new deaths / 2,290 deaths / 226,942 recoveries
  • 3,775,674  total vaccines administered
  • Vaccinations (12+): 70.6% partial (1 shot) / 28.6% full (2 shots)
Photo of two young reporters standing side by side smiling.
Aboriginal Awareness Week Calgary starts today, which is also National Indigenous Peoples Day. Pictured above is the growing vigil at City Hall honouring the 215 Children found in unmarked graves of Kamloops Residential School. 📷 Calgary Citizen
Aboriginal Awareness Week in Calgary is a time to celebrate, unite, heal


The week begins today, also known as ‘National Indigenous Peoples Day’

Keep the Circle Strong.

That’s the theme of this year’s Aboriginal Awareness Week Calgary and it couldn’t ring truer as Indigenous communities across the country mourn the recent findings of unmarked graves at former residential schools.

This week gives people in the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities a chance to celebrate the culture, unite in love, and heal from traumas, says Siksapiaki/Krista White, community support worker and Aboriginal Awareness Week Calgary spokesperson.  

"This year is the 25th anniversary in celebration of our rich cultural heritage and diversity of many different cultures, and also the outstanding achievements of First Nations people," White says.

Her parents were survivors of Canada’s residential schools and she says it’s been hard for many in the community to relive those traumas, but this week she hopes the community can heal together.

"I believe having (these kinds of events) provides that healing. With these findings, it’s really opened up a can of worms," she says, adding today’s ceremonies will provide moments of silence and prayer for those found at former residential schools recently.

"There’s also going to be more stories that we're going to hear, especially throughout Canada. My parents were residential school survivors, and it was not a very positive experience, especially for my late father."

Her father ran away from the residential school where he suffered years of abuse, she adds.  

"It also brings back that trauma that the survivors suffered. And (these kinds of events) are really what we need in our communities and for non-Indigenous people to not turn a blind eye. We’re going to overcome this as Indigenous people and create healing among our people," she adds.

That’s why it means a lot to the community when people come together to learn about Indigenous peoples' history and also recognize their traumas. And a big part of that is by participating in events like this week.

The opening ceremonies for Aboriginal Awareness Week Calgary start today from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. online.

Here is a snapshot of some of the events happening this week for Aboriginal Awareness Week, starting today, which is also National Indigenous People’s Day:

Campfire Chats: Indigenous Stories and Symbols
When: June 21

National Indigenous Peoples Day with the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary
When: June 21

National Indigenous Peoples Day with the Women’s Centre of Calgary
When: June 21


The Calgary Tower and Telus Spark are both lighting up yellow today as a show of support for all those who have been affected by human trafficking and/or sexual exploitation.

Check out Lukes Drug Mart’s new mural on the 4th street side of the Bridgeland building by Tallulah Fontaine of Bamff Studio.

Alberta Theatre Projects is soliciting pitches from Canadian playwrights for participation in the 2021-22 Playwrights Unit. Pitch submissions deadline is July 8.

In the spirit of reconciliation, admission to Telus Spark on June 21 will be free of charge for those who identify as Indigenous, First Nation, Inuit, Métis in recognition of National Indigenous Peoples Day.

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50% of the profits from each candle above will be donated to a corresponding Indigenous charity. 📷 @landofdaughters // Instagram
Indigenous-owned businesses

Indigenous-owned based businesses play a vital role in helping grow and contribute to Calgary’s community. With amazing craftsmanship, word-class design and ingenuity, we wanted to showcase seven amazing Indigenous-owned local businesses that are helping shape Calgary's future for a better tomorrow.

Indigenous Box
This amazing Alberta brand sends out a subscription box every season containing five to seven unique and beautifully crafted items from Indigenous small businesses across Canada. Their summer box is sold out, but be sure to stay tuned for their Fall Box ‘Abundance.’

Feral Fawn
Feral Fawn is run by a husband-and-wife duo offering Indigenous-style clothing that can be purchased online. Their products have been seen on international exhibits as well as TV shows such as NBC’s Chicago Fire and Motherland: Fort Salem.

Moonstone Creation
This Indigenous-owned art gallery and gift shop is located in the heart of Inglewood. They offer a variety of wearable artwork to bags, pouches, journals, and even online classes to learn how to bead, sew moccasins, or make a drum with their online classes.

Mystical Metis
Mystical Metis is a beautiful boutique that focuses on beautiful clothing, jewellery, home, kitchen items, and accessories that are 100% designed by Indigenous artists. Their products are available at different markets and pop-ups across Calgary and a percentage of their sales go to the individual artists whose design was purchased. Discover their products next at the Triwood Farmers Market Tuesday, June 22.

Transformation Fine Art
This premier art gallery focuses on Inuit and First Nations art pieces that rival some of the leading galleries across the country. 

Colouring it forward
Colouring It Forward is both a non-for-profit organization and small business. It’s their goal to create more education surrounding Indigenous issues of art, language, and culture with their Equinox Box — a quarterly subscription box filled of Indigenous made bath products, skincare products, music, art, journals, notebooks, teachings from elders and more.

Land of Daughters
Founded in 2018, this metis and female-founded homeware brand offers stunning candles, aroma sprays, and solid perfumes that will transform any room into a beautiful and cozy sanctuary — handmade and designed here in Calgary.


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