Siksika Health Services (SHS) and the Calgary Hitmen have partnered to present the 2nd annual Every Child Matters Traditional Powwow at the Scotiabank Saddledome that takes place today at the Scotiabank Saddledome at 2:00 p.m.
The following is a statement from Píítaa’niináwaakii, Leanne Sleigh, SHS Traditional Wellness Program Coordinator:
“Our story robes tell countless experiences of the strength of our people from time immemorial, showing how our heroes created a landscape of wholeness and our connection to mother earth. Our ceremonies and celebrations connect people with mother earth through the drum beat of our songs and prayers.
The culture shock of European settlers arriving on this continent began to explore and destroy our way of life. The institutions that were to educate us according to mainstream society used the method of “killing the Indian in us!”
We are mindful of knowing that our former students experienced this painful trauma that created an emotional landscape, as an individual, as a family and as a community. This legacy of the Indian Residential School (IRS) is a lifelong journey of healing. We need to speak our truth without blame or judgement and to find our voice. We need to find ways to let our stories unfold and to work on the shame which are messages that we’ve taken from the outside and brought to the inside. Our self-worth as First Nation people is a seed of incredible strength that has been passed down by our ancestors.
The children who never made it home where over 10,000 unmarked graves have spoken loud and clear to the world to tell the truth and they encouraged us to change, individually, as a family, as a community and that healing is a must! Our language needs to change to build empowerment and our connection through ceremonies. We are no longer the victims of, and no longer the shame of society because we are recovering our human beingness. We must stand up in solidarity and let that seed flourish in us rather than practicing lateral violence and allowing that pyramid structure to destroy us as First Nation people.
Let’s honor our men, women, and our children and our two spirited people, as they were recognized as part of our culture. Let’s find forgiveness so that we can move forward, for our family and our community.
Let’s begin to heal together in communities and rebuild the circle, bringing everyone back, creating a new narrative in our communities. Let’s begin to practice lateral empowerment through respect, through unity that will create those new narratives of strength and hope. The values in our culture are entrenched from our Creator and those values are our strength, it is who we are as the first people of this land, and it holds the power to change our lives”