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Indigenous Dialogues at Banff: What climbers can learn from indigenous mountain culture

The Indigenous Dialogues session at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival this year was an outstanding and revelatory discussion about how the spaces we enjoy as climbers are treasured by the indigenous communities who have lived on and taken care of them places for so long.

The discussion lasted almost an hour and a half and covered topics like the recent re-naming of Bald Eagle Peak near Canmore, the spiritual significance of rocks and mountains to the indigenous peoples and how and why the pioneering settlers renamed them with opposite intentions, to the integration of indigenous ceremonies into sacred places where climbers are active.

Bald Eagle Peak left of centre under fall skies

Hosted by the centre’s Director of Indigenous Arts, Renalta Arluk, the discussion also included input from indigenous experts on a wide range of relevant topics.

Christie Harvie is an experienced land claims negotiator with the British Columbia government. Daryl Kootenay is a young leader from the Stoney Nakoda nation and Janine Windolph a filmmaker and Associate Director of Indigenous Arts at the Banff Centre.

The participants also explored issues of ownership, stewardship and naming traditions in indigenous versus climbing communities.

This is just one of the outstanding discussions, films and presentations happening at the vrtual Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival this year. Check it out.