CFN recently had the honour of spending some time with Clarence Wolfleg Miiksika'am as a part of our Indigenous Education Program. In this first segment of a two-part interview, Elder Wolfleg talks about the historical, geographical, and cultural significance of Calgary's location in the heart of traditional Blackfoot territory, on land called Moh-kíns-tsis.
Born in 1948 in the Siksika Nation, Broken Knife, as he was called as a child, was barely seven years old when he was taken to live at the Old Sun Indian Residential school for five years. It was there he was named Clarence Wolfleg.
Miiksika'am went on to attend public school, graduating from Crescent Heights High School in Calgary in 1966. At 17 years old, like his father had done before him, he joined the military, serving in the Canadian Regular Forces with the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery where he would earn three medals.
After serving in the United Nations' peacekeeping initiatives in Cypress and NATO Forces Continental Europe missions during the Cold War, his military service came to an end and soon after he became a police officer with the Blackfoot Tribal Police, which he eventually headed. His other roles included directing outpatient services at Siksika Alcohol Services and serving ten terms on the Siksika Nation Council. He was also recognized with a headdress, given the name Miiksika'am, initiated into the Crazy Dog Society, and was bestowed a sacred bundle and warrior pipe from the Horn Society.
Elder Miiksika’am now speaks to younger generations about restorative justice, residential schools, and stories from his past. He is also a spiritual advisor for multiple groups and organizations and played a major role in facilitating the creation of the Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park. He received an honorary doctorate from Mount Royal in 2021.
"Take the good things of yesterday and put them with the good things of today for a better tomorrow."
Clarence Wolfleg Miiksika'am
He has deep roots — a rich history of many ancestors living on the land going back to the 1600s – and CFN is blessed to have his guidance.
The first of its kind in Calgary, CFN's Indigenous Education for Newcomers (IEFN) Program creates opportunities through various activities, including dialogue circles and storytelling, to bring newcomers and indigenous participants together. These activities promote discussions, in order to honour different historical and cultural perspectives; to create bridges of understanding and appreciation on both sides. For more information contact Cindy Provost at firstname.lastname@example.org