News / Calgary

ACAD launches new centre promoting indigenous cultural education

The Lodgepole Centre will offer programming, student support and a ‘save haven’ for students and staff

Surrounded by students and staff, the Turning Rob Drum Group celebrated the opening of the Lodgepole Centre with a drum circle.

Jennifer Friesen / For Metro

Surrounded by students and staff, the Turning Rob Drum Group celebrated the opening of the Lodgepole Centre with a drum circle.

Amid a floor-shaking drum circle, the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD) welcomed their brand new Lodgepole Centre on Wednesday.

It took “two years in the making and five years in the thinking,” according to Daniel Doz, president and CEO of ACAD, but an old print media studio has finally been converted to a space promoting indigenous cultural education, engagement and collaboration.

“To see this dream become a reality, this is the day that we’ve been waiting for,” said Casey Eagle Speaker, a member of the ACAD Elder Council.

ACAD’s indigenous student population is 11.2 per cent, which is the largest of any urban post-secondary campus in Alberta. The new venue is intended to foster that community and invite the entirety of the school to share in the culture and history of the land ACAD stands on.

“The ministry of education systems have failed the indigenous community on a number of fronts,” said Robyn Luff, MLA Calgary-East, who joined Wednesday’s celebrations on behalf of Government of Alberta. “In particular, a failure to foster indigenous cultural pride and identity.”

Through the support of the Government of Alberta and Suncor Energy Foundation, the space will provide educational programming, a room for traditional smudging, student support and a quiet space for all students and staff.

The ACAD Elder Council gave the Lodgepole Centre its name to signify the supportive nature of the lodgepole, which stands in the centre of a tipi and keeps the structure strong.

“That’s what we’re looking for,” said Eagle Speaker. “That the Lodgepole Centre will create that safe haven for all people. It’s not designated for one race of people…our belief is that we’re all human beings.”

The idea for the centre was borne from ACAD’s indigenous students, who told Doz and the institution what they needed. Now, Doz says he plans to keep the project growing, adding that he sees the centre’s launch as “just the first phase of a longer project.”