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The Honor of Ceremony

EPCOR’s Indigenous Monitoring Program provides Indigenous Nations and communities with the opportunity to participate in oversight of our archeological work. But the program has evolved into more than just monitoring work. In this article, EPCOR's Manager of Government & Indigenous Relations, and Member of Sucker Creek First Nation, Treaty 8 shares how this program has also become a unique learning platform for members of Team EPCOR.

by Jed Johns

Indigenous spiritual and cultural beliefs are sometimes private and other times can be shared. For EPCOR, we are on an active journey of learning about Indigenous ceremonies and how to support Indigenous peoples in their practices on Treaty lands. Indigenous peoples have complex belief systems that have​ existed before European contact and a way at looking at the world that is distinct. Sometimes it is difficult to explain what needs to be done from a ceremonial or spiritual perspective because it may not conform to a scientific or Western perspective regarding the work ahead.​

Additionally, not all ceremonies, offerings, and protocols are the same for all Nations and communities we engage and consult with across Treaties 6, 7 and 8 in Alberta.

EPCOR takes pride in reflecting the diversity of peoples and thought among employees. This means when we were faced with a request to conduct ceremony, we jumped up and said “when”?

Organizing a Pipe Ceremony meant many things; one was giving up certainty on how it would happen. It can be difficult for a utility company built on foundations of regulation, laws, and process to be asked to walk a path that was not predetermined by checklists or schemata.

EPCOR would ask: what kind of ceremony would be suggested? Who was expected to attend? Would there be multiple ceremonies and, if so, how many? And as part of our learning, we came to understand this would come out after speaking to Elders and knowledge holders from the Nations and communities. This had to be led by Indigenous ceremonialists, and it had to be done with patience in mind.​

So, we sat down with ceremonialists from the three different Treaty areas and after receiving additional advice, i​t was agreed that four Pipe Ceremonies would be held on the Rossdale Water Treatment Plant in Edmonton.​​


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