Coyote Tales: Indigenous presence for Canada 150

This year marks the 150th Anniversary of Canada’s confederation and hundreds of events will be hosted across the country to celebrate, including a number of events hosted by the Red Deer Native Friendship Society.

Ten thousand years before the Europeans arrived on Turtle Island, now called North America, the indigenous people lived in distinct communities with their own language, culture, traditions, and sovereign government so forgive me if I want to celebrate the thousands of years that preceded Confederation.

I want to recognize the indigenous gifts that contributed to making Canada what it is today.

The notion of celebrating 150 years of Confederation is troubling for some indigenous people who say that there is no reason to celebrate colonization of the indigenous people and the destruction of traditional values and way of life. For me, the marking of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation is about setting the newcomers’ birthday in the context of Canada’s story from time immemorial.

In an interview with CBC News in Calgary, the Minister of Heritage Mélanie Joly was quoted as saying, “We know that the relationship with our indigenous groups and communities in the past 150 years has really not been perfect so we’re committed as a government to make sure that the next 150 years are way better. This is exactly why we made sure that in the context of Canada 150 we would celebrate the reconciliation with indigenous people.’

The REVIVE 150 Program being offered by Red Deer Native Friendship Society will provide opportunity to deepen understanding about the Canadian story that we all share; both the challenges of the past and the promises for a better future in the next 150 years. We will offer community conversations and events that will explore ways in which each one of us can be a part of a more equal, respectful, prosperous confederation through acts of reconciliation. The indigenous community in Red Deer will invite citizens to come out of this year with a better understanding about the indigenous cultures of the lands that Red Deer is situated on. We hope that people develop an appreciation for the importance of reviving the traditional ways of our ancestors and will feel welcome to join us in building a strong community where all people can grow and flourish. Please join us for one, or all of the events listed below.

Revive 150 events in Red Deer:

March 2, 2017 – Our first event will take place with our friends at the Museum and Art Gallery at 6:15 pm. We will host the “Blanket Exercise” and Confederation conversation. Tickets for this fundraiser for the Asooahum Crossing are available at the MAG or RDNFS for $20.00.

March 2017 – Indigenous Storytelling and Writer’s Workshop (TBA)

April 2017 – Building the Path for Peace & Friendship – TRC Calls to Action and Asooahum Crossing Community Conversation

June 21, 2017 – Cultural Revival Event and Cultural Teachings at Asooahum Crossing

August 2017 – Medicine Talks at Fort Normandeau Days

September 2017 – All Tribes Drumcircle & Performance at Alberta Culture Days

November 2017 – Indigenous Film Festival at Reel Monday Films

Watch for details of upcoming events or contact Red Deer Native Friendship Society at 403-340-0020. Join our facebook page at www.rdnfs.com

Tanya Ward-Schur is the director of the Asooahum Crossing.

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