After five years of construction and $1.4 billion later, Calgary’s southwest ring road is complete.
Transportation Minister Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Municipal Affair Ric McIver and Mayor Naheed Nenshi were on hand Saturday afternoon to officially open the final stretch between Fish Creek Boulevard and Highway 22X.
The 31-kilometre roadway will connect Highway 8 with Macleod Trail, and according to the ministry of transportation, created 2,000 “good-paying” jobs.
Shortly into the ceremony, the celebratory tone changed.
While welcoming the mayor to the podium, McIver was interrupted by protester and Tsuut’ina Nation member Seth Cardinal Dodginghorse, who took to the microphone to voice his opposition to the road.
The ceremony was being livestreamed online, but the audio to the microphone was cut as soon as Cardinal Dodginghorse began to speak, meaning his words could only be heard by those in attendance.
“I challenge the Tsuut’ina people to fight for the land, to fight for our treaty rights and more,” said Cardinal Dodginghorse.
At issue for Cardinal Dodginghorse is the 12-kilometre part of the ring road, Tsuut’ina Trail, that was made possible thanks to a $341-million land transfer deal made in 2013 between the province and Tsuut’ina Nation.
During the October 2020 ceremony to open Tsuut’ina Trail, Cardinal Dodginghorse cut off his braids as a symbolic sign of his protest.
Cardinal Dodginghorse says it’s been an emotional journey since that day.
“Last year was really hard,” he said. “This year, I feel more prepared.”
Cardinal Dodginghorse is asking Calgarians to show their support by avoiding driving on the road.
“I lost my home. I lost my family’s land,” he said.
“I’m not afraid to speak up because what else can I lose from speaking up?”