By Will Colford, Snowseekrs Inc.
Alberta is no stranger to “world’s largest”.
Off the top of my head, there’s the worlds largest cowboy boot, egg, golf tee, sausage, and baseball bat.
However, Medicine Hat is home to a structure that is equally large in cultural significance as it is in height.
The World’s largest Tipi is more than a kitche gimmick.
It takes something this large to represent the local First Nations communities as an identified whole.
“For me, this place is my culture, it’s more than just a structure, it’s where I feel most at peace,” said former cultural interpreter Carrie Lloyd-Stewart.
The Tipi was constructed for the 1988 Calgary Olympics, and then was reconstructed in order to ad more support and relocate. “Each pole,” remembers Carrie, “took about five to six hours to erect. The Tipi stands as a landmark everyone from Medicine Hat identifies with, and feels pride for. Within the inner ring are “paintings that run in conjunction with each other to tell the story and represent all the tribes and people surrounding Medicine Hat.”
As the torch relay represents enduring spirit and community pride, the world’s largest Tipi is a fitting location to house the festivities. It is perhaps the only place on the relay that holds a candle to the symbolism of the torch itself. Taken together, Medicine Hat’s torch lighting ceremony is overwhelmingly spiritual.