Microphone cut as a Tsuut’ina man steps onto the podium to protest the opening of the Calgary Southwest Bypass
An Indigenous man whose family has lost their land took over during celebratory remarks by government officials as the last section of Calgary’s $ 1.4 billion Southwest Ring Road took off open saturday.
Cardinal Seth Dodginghorse says his family has been greatly affected by the ring road after being forced to leave their land. When the first stretch of the road opened last year, he cut his braids in protest.
His microphone was muted on the provincial video feed of the road opening ceremony on Saturday, but it was recorded by a media pool camera feed.
Transport Minister Rajan Sawhney, Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi marked the opening of the Southwest Ring Road at 2 p.m., closing the road to public travel.
As McIver introduced Nenshi, Dodginghorse instead stepped onto the podium, followed by police officers.
“Honestly, I don’t want to be here right now,” he said.
Part of the highway is built on land the province acquired from the Tsuut’ina First Nation in 2013.
“I know there are people on Tsuut’ina who are still suffering from what this road has caused, they still feel it. I know I still feel it,” he said.
He challenged Tsuut’ina chief Roy Whitney not to sell or lease land, and his parents and other Tsuut’ina to stand by his side.
He said just because the projects were given Indigenous names doesn’t mean the damage hasn’t been done.
“To the privileged Albertans and Calgarians who travel this road, I strongly say do not drive on this road and do not drive on the Tsuut’ina trail,” he said.
“I am against this road, I am against what it represents and what these economic developments represent.”
Nenshi spoke after Dodginghorse’s remarks.
Dodginghorse spoke to the mayor off camera, after Nenshi said he was working to bring clean water to the Tsuut’ina Nation. Dodginghorse said he did not have clean drinking water in his home.
Nenshi said 75 percent of Tsuut’ina members voted in favor of the ring road.
“I understand you don’t agree… but at the end of the day we have to listen to the whole community.”
“One of the things I said at the beginning is that this road only works if the Tsuut’ina approve it. And indeed, in a referendum, the Tsuut’ina approved it. The vast majority, ”Nenshi said.
When the province subsequently posted a video of the event, Dodginghorse was cut from the video.
The Southwest Ring Road is 31 kilometers of six- and eight-lane divided highway, stretching from Highway 8 to Macleod Trail SE
Construction of the bypass began in 2017. The first 15-kilometer segment, between Glenmore Trail and 146th Avenue SW, opened last year.
The Government of Alberta was responsible for construction.
“The Calgarians have been waiting for this day for five long years,” said Sawhney.
She said the project has created 2,000 jobs and that work continues on Calgary’s west bypass.
The entire ring road was scheduled to open in 2022, but has been delayed for two years and is expected to open in 2024.