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Banff Gondola offers immersive 'Nightrise' experience showcasing Stoney Nakoda stories

Banff's new nightfall gondola at Sulphur Mountain pays tribute to the stories and history of Stoney Nakoda Nation — something that isn't always at the forefront in the Alberta town.

'We get to share who we are in many aspects through an amazing, unique way'

Nightrise is a new, multi-sensory, winter experience at the Banff Gondola. It was created by Moment Factory, a Montreal company that has created multimedia infrastructures all over the world. (Moment Factory)

The Banff Gondola has a new nighttime experience atop Sulphur Mountain that pays tribute to the stories and history of Stoney Nakoda Nation — something that hasn't always been at the forefront in the Alberta resort town.

The multimedia, immersive presentation, dubbed Nightrise, was unveiled Wednesday evening.

It features vibrant lighting, video projections and soundscapes inside and outside the summit complex, with the experience starting with the gondola ride.

Stuart Back, vice-president of operations at Banff Jasper Collection by Pursuit, says the project has been in the works for several months and was done in partnership with Stoney Nakoda Nation. 

WATCH | Stoney Nakoda stories light up Banff's gondola

Stoney Nakoda Nation teams up with Banff tourist attraction to share its stories

1 month ago
Duration 3:03
The Sulphur Mountain gondola near Banff is launching a new multimedia experience. It centres on displays inspired by the storytelling and culture of the Stoney Nakoda. 3:03

He says it was important to bring the stories and teachings of the First Nations people to the forefront.

"We really encourage guests to spend the time and absorb the environment," he said. "The longer you look, the more you see. The harder you listen, the more you hear. And that's something that's really come through from the way the Stoney [people] view this place."

Kirsten Ryder, the training and development director with Stoney Nakoda Nation, says the Stoney have both a cultural and historical significance in Banff National Park and the townsite.

Kirsten Ryder, the training and development director for the Stoney Nakoda Nation, helped facilitate the project at the Banff Gondola on Sulphur Mountain. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

"Banff is sort of an alpine, mountaineering community and is known for that," she said. "Sometimes it's not noticed or it's forgotten that the Indigenous peoples of this territory have been here for a very, very long time."

'Reconciliaction'

Ryder notes the Stoney Nakoda people helped guide settlers to mountain trails and land.

But these stories aren't always shared, and Ryder says it's been a long time coming that the Stoney people get to collaborate in a project like this.

"It's 'reconciliaction,' where we're actually taking some action here and partnering and we get to have some say and a Stoney-led process."

She says her people are now represented at the Banff Gondola through song and their language.

"We hope that anywhere that non-Indigenous people visit, we hope that they can recognize that there have been Indigenous peoples in that territory for a very long time and start to recognize that and maybe want to even learn more about us."

Nightrise runs until March 12, 2022.

With files from Monty Kruger

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