Saturday, February 18, 2017

Kehewin Language and Cultural Symposium

A short journal as an attendee of the event...


February 15-17, 2017

“To strive to retain Cree Language with Culture”

KCN Chief Brenda John - Tawaw
It was a pleasure to attend the language conference held in our neighbouring tribe. This was a great opportunity to hear some key trail blazers in language revitalization within our Indigenous Lands and some used research to support the need for revitalization and strategies to strengthen our goals towards success of removing our languages from the endangered status.
The Chief and Council and Elder’s support and presence was exceptional and reflected their focus of treaty and education etc. during the grand entry with our Treaty No. 6 flag, the Crown flag and their nation’s flag present. There was no Canadian or Provincial flag present. This was something another attendee commented on and noticed at the table I was at and she thought this was a great demonstration of honour and respect for who we are as nehiyawak and an honour to witness.

However, on a more personal journey, this was a great opportunity to network with others of like minds, support each other on this journey of reclamation, and reiterate a message that we are all interconnected on this journey together. After all, language is a vital tool way beyond communication.

The three-day conference was very well organized and planned with exceptional Keynote Speakers Belinda Daniels and Solomon Ratt and wide variety of Presenters. It was hard to decide what sessions to attend as some were scheduled longer than others and overlapped. I was left with having to let go

of the opportunity to see some presenter’s sessions. I did, however, attend Darlene Auger’s session on Swing Therapy, half of Jerry Saddlebacks’ session on the nehiyaw Creation Story, and Elmer Ballantyne on wahkotowin. All were exceptional sessions leaving me yearning for more but again leaving me feeling like I needed to let go of my desires to learn more those days. I guess in the future I can hope to cross paths with them again in “Indian Country”.

The first session I attended was Darlene Auger’s and I walked away more enlightened on how she started her journey to start the Swing Exercises. I heard of her work years ago and want to participate in it sometime to assist in furthering my own healing pimohtewin. After she shared her story, she
demonstrated the method with a volunteer. Later, we did discuss doing this with our Master’s Students this spring. This was promising. I strongly believe in the swing for children and helping our people heal from intergenerational traumas. Traumas which can also be barriers for our people to learn our Indigenous languages and a path of resurgence.

The second presenter I briefly listened to was Jerry Saddleback and I walked away with another part of the Creation Story as many are aware, takes days to hear. However, grateful for the piece I did hear on a spirit’s journey on sharing some sacred medicines across our lands even as far as south of the border, before those superficial borders were invented by our colonizers. Every time I have an opportunity to hear him speak, I am grateful for him and the time and energy he puts towards sharing the stories. It is always a blessing to hear him, even if only for a short time.

The third session I attended was with Elmer Ballantyne from Saskatchewan. He shared part of his life and expanded on the importance of kinship and why some of the words are the way they are as they tie into teachings and roles of how we interact with each other. For example, in-laws would not talk to each other as a sign of great respect and find other ways to communicate and often through others or animals or objects. It always is interesting to hear because over the years I have seen some of these behaviors demonstrated and sometimes some didn’t know why, they just did it. Some of this knowledge was shared and some was blood memory. Kinship is always interesting as the connections are not always simple but the kinship system is very complex but also very efficient.

What I remembered the most were the sessions and I did catch parts of the Keynote Speakers words but sometimes, it was not always easy to hear due to the busyness of the gym while they spoke. However, it was great to stay and attend the evening event and listen to a fun laughter filled gym with Don Burnstick. This allowed me to free my spirit and just have some fun and laugh until I cried hahaha. As was all know, I hate laughing! haha

I did walk away with many pictures, some video of wise words from people like KCN Councillor
Ben Badger, and my peers. It was also great to see so many attend as the even was full. I really hope there are more conferences like this locally, with easy access, for our people to attend as the registration was minimal and it included meals and evening entertainment. This was what I liked about it too, welcoming environment, fun, professional but laid back, healthy meals, easy to access and attend, and affordable…but most importantly the exercising of our language and culture!

Memorable three days on Treaty No. 6 Territory reclaiming & resurgence of language and culture...

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