I love being Canadian. I’m proud to be a Blackfeet-Métis woman. I’m proud to wear a flag patch when I travel to other countries. I like being accused of being too polite. I recognize that the virtues attributed to Canadians come from the original teachings of First People who lived on this land a long time ago. I believe that the seven sacred teachings of respect, honesty, humility, love, wisdom, truth, and courage are the reason that the indigenous people have survived the impact of colonization, treaty making, the residential school era (1886-1996) and the 60s scoop that separated our children from their land, their families and their culture. It is these teachings that enable us to heal and to be willing to sit in circles of truth and reconciliation. We’ve survived, but I also see signs that we are beginning to thrive again. I hope that together we can explore these topics more and build a deeper understanding of Canada’s history and gain a new awareness about the indigenous people and their contributions that make Canada the great place we call home.
Through this column, it is the intention of Red Deer Native Friendship Society to share its indigenous culture with you. One of our main teachers is Coyote, sometimes called the Trickster. I think I’m a little like a coyote in that I can be like an irritating pup “nipping at the heels” of bureaucratic white tape until it brings some sort of action. I’ll try to share some of my experiences in a way that will make you laugh out loud, and maybe make you angry enough to stand with the indigenous community to right past wrongs. Unlike Wile E. Coyote (from Road Runner) our coyote stories provide messages about how to learn from our mistakes and always have an underlying moral message that enables us to live in greater harmony as members of our community.
There are so many wonderful stories that took place on this land and I am grateful for the opportunity to share the rich indigenous culture and stories with the citizens of Red Deer through this column. You are to submit questions to me and I’ll do my best to find the answers and introduce you some of the amazing Indigenous people that are making Red deer home. Thank you for making time to join this circle of sharing.
Tanya Ward-Schur is the executive director of the Red Deer Native Friendship Society