Lethbridge-East MLA Maria Fitzpatrick presented the college with the cheque today and toured the space where “Founder’s Square,” a legacy project planned in celebration of the college’s 60th anniversary, will be built this fall.
“Listening to the plans and the incorporation of the history of the college, I am thrilled this is happening,” says Fitzpatrick. “I’m very happy that this project will incorporate the Indigenous history of the college and its place on Blackfoot territory because that should be part of the college’s history. I look forward to it all being in place.”
Founder’s Square will honour the work of the visionaries who, in bringing post- secondary education to southern Alberta, created the country’s first publicly-funded community college. The project will be constructed across from the Food Court – a highly-trafficked and high profile spot on campus – as a way to inspire visitors to take a walk through the college’s first 60 years and join in celebrating the college’s history and alignment with the Indigenous culture.
“There is so much history on this land,” says Dr. Paula Burns, Lethbridge College President and CEO. “Before it was a college, it was a farm. And before that, it was and continues to be, the traditional territory of the Blackfoot people, the place where for more than 10,000 years the members of the Blood Tribe (Kainai) and its confederates the Peigans and the Siksika would hunt, fish and camp. For as long as there have been residents of the western prairies, the land where Lethbridge College now sits has been a place of people coming together to live, learn and grow.”
The creation of the college was truly a collaborative community effort. While the need for post-secondary education in post-war Lethbridge was great, it was the determination of a handful of people – including Gilbert Paterson and Kate Andrews – and Lethbridge institutions and businesses – including the Lethbridge Herald and nearly 20 local and regional school boards and divisions – to actually turn the idea of a community college into reality. These leaders worked with an unflagging commitment toward their goal until finally, in 1957, the provincial government approved the proposal to open Lethbridge Junior College.
Founder’s Square will be located in the heart of the college, along the corridor that connects the north, Centre Core entrance with the south entrance of the new trades and technologies facility. The space will combine natural and synthetic materials as well as static and interactive displays, photographs, text, and Indigenous textiles, drums, art and artifacts. And this week the college also received $10,000 to be used for art and artifacts in Founder’s Square from the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta through the Canada 150 grant.
Fundraising for the remainder of the Founder’s Square project is on-going. The project is expected to be completed by the end of September as a capstone project for the college’s 60th anniversary.