September 30 marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
A day to Honour the children who never returned home and Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities. Learning and understanding the truths and impact of the tragic and painful history is essential to reconciliation.
Incorporating treaty education and Indigenous history and culture in our programming.
Part of building a welcoming community is creating opportunities for newcomers to become familiar with the history of residential schools and the experiences of indigenous people in Canada. This can not be done through one event; that is why we incorporate these teachings throughout our departments year-round.
Our Welcoming Community for Newcomers program runs the “Building Relationships through Intercultural Dialogue and Growing Engagement in Saskatchewan” (BRIDGES)This program brings newcomers together with indigenous youth and promotes friendship, cultural sharing, understanding and appreciation. This program is an initiative of the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan. It is made possible with the collaboration of Regina Open Door Society, Newo-Yotina Friendship Centre and Street Culture Project.
This summer, we worked alongside many indigenous educators, artists and storytellers to learn Indigenous history, art, and culture.
The workshop concluded with a final performance where everyone shared a personal story about their background and culture followed by some group dancing. The aim of the workshop was to promote inclusivity by learning about and appreciating different cultures through art and theatre.
Our Youth program participants also had the opportunity to attend the Treaty 4 Pow Wow in Fort Qu’Appelle.
The Powwow is a celebration of Indigenous song and dance. Journey through the history of powwow culture on the land we are at, from its origins to the thriving powwow culture of today.
We were honoured to be invited to the grand entrance and walk in with other delegates and dancers.
Incorporating these teachings in our English classes.
Many of our clients are just learning English, so lengthy discussions about these topics may not be possible due to language barriers. However, our English teachers ensure to include indigenous history and culture in their lessons. Our goal is to start conversations in an accessible manner so that students are aware of the importance of learning about this part of Canadian history.
KidsFirst Truth and Reconciliation project.
To support healthy connections and attachments through the Orange Shirt Day Attachment Hearts activity and storytelling. Our community, regardless of ethnicity, belief or religion, must continue honouring the traditional languages, stories, and practices. Talking about and celebrating the history behind Orange Shirt Day is a way to continue to address and acknowledge the importance of Truth and Reconciliation.
Each family in the KidsFirst program and the home visitors received items to create their own Attachment Heart. Attachment Hearts are small pieces of fabric secured together with sage inside. They represent the relationship ties and connections children have with their caregivers, whether it be: parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles, foster parents, adoptive parents and or other extended family.
Attachment Hearts have been utilized as a tactile and visual representation of kinship, connection and relationship for Aboriginal children, families and communities. Attachment Hearts address concerns of unhealthy connections with caregivers, separation anxiety, depression and sensory issues. Traditional Medicines are important for many reasons. In Attachment Hearts, we share the comforting and soothing properties of sage to heal, improve mood and encourage a journey towards self-discovery and healing. They help support grounding, taking a minute to remember and feel your feelings in respect and honor for those who have suffered substantial losses to family and friends being taken to Indian Residential Schools.
The second part of the TRC project focused on providing information to our families on Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action, providing each family with two Indigenous children’s books and a storytelling event by Elder Joyce Racette. On September 21, 2022, Elder Joyce Racette did some storytelling with 3 of our KidsFirst Families. She shared information on Residential Schools and the importance of kinship and read some Indigenous children’s books to our families. We were honoured to have her meet with us and share stories with our families.
A Truth and Reconciliation committee to engage our staff.
This year, our Human Resources team formed a committee with staff from all departments. The goal of this committee is to develop a plan to engage all staff in professional development opportunities related to treaty education and indigenous history and culture.
For our first activity, we were joined by Michael Cardinal, who led us through a blanket exercise and a talking circle.
The Blanket Exercise is based on using Indigenous methodologies. The goal is to build an understanding of our shared history as Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada by walking through pre-contact, treaty-making, colonization and resistance. Everyone is actively involved as they step onto blankets representing the land, and into the role of First Nations, Inuit and later Métis peoples.
At all of these activities, we’ve had the privilege to learn from indigenous educators, who have graciously taken the time to share their knowledge with us. Many of their teachings can be painful reminders of a history that continues to impact indigenous communities. Nevertheless, they always show up with patience, care and kindness, regardless of how hard some of these things are to talk about.
For that, we are forever grateful to Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway and Lorne Kequahtooway from the Buffalo People’s Art Institute, Tracey George, Melissa Worme, Sheena Koops, Andrea Muirhead, Elder Joyce Racette, and Michael Cardinal.
If you would like to learn more about Truth and Reconciliation, the following Universities offer free online Indigenous studies courses. Select enroll for Free Option; many begin today!
- University of Alberta Free Online Course: Indigenous Canada | University of Alberta (ualberta.ca)
- University of British Columbia: Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education | edX
- University of Toronto: Aboriginal Worldviews and Education | Coursera
Our offices will be closed on September 30 to recognize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
In the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, we invite you to take this day to listen, learn, reflect, and acknowledge the harm caused by the Residential School System.