Records and Reconciliation: Iskoteo

Photograph: Iskoteo, [ca. 1995]. (SPRA 0603.01.239)

In 2020, the South Peace Regional Archives launched a major project, titled “Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records,” with financial support from Library and Archives Canada. The purpose of the project was to increase awareness of and access to Indigenous-related records within the Archives’ collections: by re-appraising, describing or re-describing, and digitizing more than 300 records in 70 fonds. This project is vital step in the Archives’ ongoing work towards Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. We are now able to share these records with the community.

This photograph is from the 1995 Grande Prairie Canada Winter Games Host Society fonds (Fonds 603). It shows a close up of face of the Iskoteo character from the Winter Games. His eagle helmet is visible in the image.

One of the mandates of the Culture Division of the Games Host Committee was to expose people to northern Alberta culture. The overall theme for the cultural program was “Iskoteo”, the Cree word for the Northern Lights. The Cultural Events proposal for the character describes Iskatao (later, Iskoteo) as a modern Shaman that is “represented as a modern hero, clown, guide, traveller, storyteller, and historian…he wears the Eagle helmet, crested with a flaming mohawk. At his back is a fantail that opens out into a back pack encompassing the four elements.”

The cultural programming of the Grande Prairie Winter Games was experienced by thousands of people. Many heralded the Games for its inclusion and celebration of Indigenous peoples.

To view more digitized images of the Iskoteo character, visit Alberta on Record.  Do you recognize the model? Contact the Archives to let us know!