Canada’s aboriginal affairs minister is the newest member of the Piikani Nation honourary chieftanship.
John Duncan received a ceremonial headdress and Blackfoot name White Buffalo on Wednesday during a ceremony in the new Piikani Nation arbour.
“I am deeply grateful for the honour bestowed upon me today,” Duncan said. “It is an experience I will never forget. It is a bond of friendship and trust which will inspire me in my service to you and to all Canadians.”
Blackfoot elder Leonard Bastien conducted the ceremony before a large audience that included Piikani Nation Chief Gayle Strikes With a Gun, federal Minister of State for Finance Ted Menzies and Alberta Aboriginal Relations Minister Robin Campbell.
The honourary chieftainship was requested by Piikani Nation chief and council to recognize Duncan’s efforts in establishing strong intergovernmental relationships with First Nations.
Strikes With A Gun said Duncan has strengthened those relationships “based on the recognition, respect and reconciliation of our treaty and aboriginal rights.”
Duncan joins people such as actors Robert Stack and Rod Cameron, humanitarian and educator Dr. Chester Cunningham, historical Canadian artist Nicholas de Grandmaison and Calgary educator and community activist Doug Clovechok in the honourary Piikani chieftanship,
“To be an honorary member of the Piikani chieftainship is certainly a very proud moment in my life,” Duncan said.
Duncan said the Canadian government has supported capital projects on the Piikani Nation, including construction of two large multi-residential units for elders and single parent families.
“Piikani members are devoted to the success of your housing program and the community has been working toward a long-term, sustainable housing strategy,” Duncan said.
Duncan listed other successful projects including the Wind Dancer turbine; the Cattle Yard Ranch; development and access to gravel; and the new Wi-Fi Tower that provides high speed internet access to the Brocket townsite for staff, the school and community members.
“I have a long history with aboriginal peoples, first as a member of the Official Opposition, then as a government member, then parliamentary secretary to the previous minister and now as minister,” Duncan said. “I’ve seen a lot of change over the years and I’m encouraged to see firsthand many examples of strong First Nation leadership driving positive change.”
“Over the last six years, our government has demonstrated in symbolic and practical ways its commitment to reconciliation with aboriginal peoples,” Duncan added. “And I am very pleased to have been a part of the history-making initiatives undertaken.”