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Tsuu T’ina First Nation Vies to Be Named Coolest Community in Alberta

Tsuu T’ina First Nation appears, well, normal. Sure it has great facilities: two championship golf courses, a casino, a sports complex, an ice rink and an indoor rodeo center. But there’s more. This First Nation, just southwest of Calgary with a population of 1,650 and an area of 109 square miles, is also a serious contender for the title of “Cultureville 2011,” the coolest, most cultured community in the province of Alberta.

The second annual Cultureville competition is being held to recognize the province’s rich cultural diversity and is part of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s 75th anniversary celebrations as well as Alberta Arts Days. A CBC in-house panel winnowed down the approximately 50 nominees based on community spirit, originality and passion for culture, and on August 16 announced the shortlist of six communities, which included Tsuu T’ina, the only First Nation in the competition. The other shortlisted communities are Jasper, Rosebud, Peace River, Camrose and Red Deer, all featuring an array of visual art, music and theatre presented through concerts and festivals. Public voting for the finalist begins on September 6, and the winner will be announced on September 29.

“The Tsuu T'ina nomination showed that it is interested in promoting its culture not only to its own community but also far beyond,” said CBC manager Shawna Kelly as to why Tsuu T'ina made the final six. “So much of our province’s history is directly tied to First Nations communities. It is important that we reflect those contributions.”

Hal Eagletail, who helped organize the Tsuu T’ina entry, said it was not a stretch for the First Nation to tout its culture.

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“It’s our connection with the land and cultural values,” Eagletail said. “We actively promote our culture all year round.”

Cultural activities include an enormous annual rodeo and pow wow that draws participants and onlookers from across North America, plus ball tournaments, the largest annual native golf tournament in North America, dancing exhibitions and tours, and much more.

“We also have many programs to teach traditional culture, including language, dancing, drumming, weaving and more,” said Eagletail. “Everyone is excited about the possibility of our community becoming Alberta’s “Cultureville. We’re all involved in some way and feel the title will be an honor and will also highlight our culture to the rest of the province and all of Canada. Culture is important because it identifies who we are.”

Sounds like a very compelling reason for the Tsuu T’ina First Nation to win the title of Cultureville 2011. Check out the nominees and vote at CBC’s Cultureville website.

Each nominee will be profiled on CBC Radio One’s Calgary Eyeopener (9.1 FM/1010 AM) and Edmonton AM (93.9 FM/740 AM) between September 6 and September 16. In addition a special broadcast featuring the contenders will air on CBC TV September 29 as part of Alberta Arts Days celebrations, CBC said in a release.