Discussions have begun between the Town of Strathmore and Melodie Ayoungman regarding the fourth anniversary of her son, Kristian’s murder, and how best to celebrate his life.
Ayoungman came before Town Council on July 6 as a delegation to propose her thoughts and initiate a discussion about hosting a significant social event in Kristian’s name.
Ayoungman explained that in Siksika there is cultural significance in doing things in fours to honour the dead and honour the memory of loved ones.
“What our family is proposing is, next year will be our boy, Kristian Ayoungman’s fourth year memorial. In 2019, the Town of Strathmore, town council and the mayor at the time, and also Siksika Nation Chief and Council had asked me what things I would like to see,” said Ayoungman. “At the time, I just knew that our communities needed to work together and make better relations amongst one another.”
During the first memorial for Kristian, a men’s traditional special was done with the Ayoungman family. In March 2022, the memorial site at Kinsmen Park was unveiled in his memory.
For the fourth celebration of Kristian’s life, Ayoungman proposed to host a powwow in Strathmore -— a significant social event for people to come together from “all throughout North America, in Canada and the United States.”
“Next year will be Kristian Ayoungman’s fourth memorial and what we were thinking is, what a great opportunity to take active reconciliation in having a powwow here in Strathmore,” said Ayoungman. “That could involve all your organizations, your businesses, volunteers and also Siksika Chief and Council want to be involved as well. I thought, what a better way to do the fourth-year memorial is to include that here in the Town of Strathmore.”
She suggested the powwow as an opportunity to draw people to the town, bring a lot of business to the community, and for the town to learn about all First Nations cultures.
For the Ayoungman family, acting in Kristian’s memory will not stop following this fourth celebration of his life, suggesting the family is looking to potentially launch a foundation in his name.
“I’m very glad to see how the Town of Strathmore and Siksika are working together in creating better relationships and taking active reconciliation,” said Ayoungman.
Councillor Denise Peterson added during Ayoungman’s presentation, that following the efforts made for Kristian, there have been a growing number of efforts within the town and local school divisions to practise learning, understanding and reconciliation.
Council moved unanimously to refer Ayoungman’s request to town administration and directed administration to return to council with a report regarding how such an event may be put together.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times