Courtesy Reg and Rose Crowshoe
June 29, 2023
Crowshoes win Grant MacEwan Award for Community Impact
Two longtime Elders with the University of Calgary have been recognized by The City of Calgary for their tireless work in improving the lives of countless Calgarians through Indigenization and community engagement.
Elders Dr. Reg Crowshoe, Hon. LLD’01, and Rose Crowshoe are the latest recipients of the Grant MacEwan Lifetime Achievement Award, which honours Calgarians who, over the past 25 years or more, have made significant contributions to their communities and improved the quality of life for citizens.
The award, presented as part of the 2023 Calgary Awards, honours the Traditional Knowledge Keepers from Piikani First Nation for their commitment to increasing cultural capacity within the city and unwavering efforts to create space for truth and reconciliation for more than 30 years.
Preservation and conservation
Reg Crowshoe has travelled extensively around the world throughout his life spreading awareness about Blackfoot history, traditions and spirituality alongside his father, spiritual leader and Elder Dr. Joe Crowshoe, Hon. LLD’90. In 1985, Reg built upon his father’s legacy, becoming the cultural co-ordinator and developer of the Cultural Imperative Program for the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Centre, a heritage site his father played a key role in preserving. Reg’s wife, Rose, served as a board member for the centre.
As recognized preservationists and experts in their culture, in 1989, Reg and Rose were invited to what was then East Germany to help identify Blackfoot artifacts stored by the Nazi government during the Second World War. Their knowledge was invaluable in helping the Berlin National Gallery identify crates of Blackfoot artifacts recovered from bunkers and mines after the war.
Arts and culture
Throughout the 2000s, Rose and Reg aided in developing a process for Indigenous traditional knowledge and arts preservation for Heritage Canada. Their involvement in the arts culminated in the Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society, a legacy project launched in 2012 with the Crowshoes’ oversight as members of an Indigenous advisory committee for The City of Calgary’s Cultural Capital of Canada initiative.
The Crowshoes have worked closely with United Way Calgary and Area on a variety of projects, including the development of the non-profit’s Akak’stiman Indigenous Strategy. Akak’stiman: Journey of Creative Planning to Achieve Goals is a multi-generational strategy that guides the United Way’s business practices, Indigenous-focused investments, and relationships with Indigenous communities. The result was the Indigenous Advisory Committee for United Way Calgary and Area, of which Reg and Rose are members.
UCalgary is proud to hold a long and meaningful relationship with Reg and Rose. Both Elders were instrumental in the creation of the Solar House Decathlon project, also known as Spo’pi, providing their insights as cultural and spiritual advisers to the university. The project, designed to respond to First Nations housing issues, is now a permanent fixture on UCalgary’s campus for use in both research and education.
In 2001, the university, as it had done with his father a decade earlier, presented Reg with an honorary doctorate, followed by an appointment to the UCalgary Senate in 2016, on which he served for six years. Reg and Rose have provided their knowledge and assistance to the university countless times, often leading ceremonies, instructing students on traditional knowledge and advising UCalgary in the creation of its Indigenous Strategy, ii' taa'poh'to'p. Currently, Reg and Rose are members of UCalgary’s Elders Circle of Advisers.
In all their works and projects, Reg and Rose imbue traditional ways of knowing that resonate with Blackfoot culture and bring awareness to their community. Their ability to meld western and Indigenous approaches to complex issues inspires change through its analysis. In 2022, Reg and Rose were made members of the Order of Canada for their extraordinary contributions to enriching and maintaining Indigenous culture in Canada.
Reg and Rose Crowshoe’s commitment to not only increasing Indigenous awareness in Canada, but also ensuring Indigenous participation and perspectives, is reflected in all sectors of society, establishing them as agents of consistent and measurable change that bring recognition and positive social impact to both Calgary and Alberta.