Through the language we can bring healing to our people.

 

Through the Language we can bring healing to our people.

Tansi/Kwe,

As a First Nation, Inuit, and/or Metis individual, what priorities would you bring to the forefront of Turtle Island in order to bring healing, renewed relationships, positive action and revitalization of our diverse cultures?

This question was at the heart, spirit and intent of over 26 First Nations, Inuit and Metis Nations as I travelled Far East to “Unama’ki – Land of the Fog” and “People of the Dawn” in Membertou First Nation, Nova Scotia. Knowledge keepers, youth, elders, women, men, two spirited and all sovereign passionate souls gathered here on Mi’kmaq territory to collaborate, discuss, network, share stories and record ideas toward this question and plausible solutions.

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Jeff Ward (a member of Membertou First Nation) confidently stated that, “through the language we can bring healing to our people.” I have heard this time and time again from elders back home on the plains as well. That our languages and cultures go hand in hand and that it’s vital to keep our languages alive in order to also keep our cultures alive.

Jeff Ward also mentioned that, “We have a gift of Indigenous language, we need to think about that and honour that. Think of this gathering here in the east as a new beginning”.

A woman from the Native Women’s Association of Canada proclaimed that “Indigenous women are keepers of the language” and that only 5% of First Nation children learn an Indigenous language.

Many of these knowledge keepers, with passion in their words, their eyes pleading and searching for change, their hearts pouring out to a sea of Indigeniety sparked a flame inside my being. It had always been there but had not been inflamed to that capacity.

Being a young Nihithaw and Anishinaabe woman, who was born and raised in the urban inner city, far from any Indigenous language other than the “official” colonial construct of English and French. I am now learning so much more about the loss of our culture and languages and how its such an incredibly important time right now to strengthen our heritage, revitalize and reclaim who we are as Indigenous, First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples. I must return back to my roots, visit and learn from the source, from my Cree (Nihithaw) territory in Northern Manitoba. I must return back and fully immerse myself in the language in order to fully become fluent.

Some nations have only a few fluent speakers of the language left and most of them are beginning to approach their final years in this physical realm. This is very painful to hear and ignites my spirit to want to create concrete action in order to reverse this. To create new generations of speakers.

Some tips to achieve this include:

  1. Record and document elders
  2. Teach children in public school system
  3. Begin immersion with on-reserve schools
  4. Create new generation of adult speakers committing to 2000 hours of meaningful exposure to the language.
  5. Language camps
  6. Elder socials
  7. utilization of media (TV, movies, cartoons, books, social media, etc.)

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With that, us as Indigenous, First Nations, Inuit, Metis peoples need to ask ourselves how bad do we want it? What are the commitments we are willing to make right now in this moment? What sacrifices do we want to make for our languages and culture? We need to feed the passion. We need to accept our role, its all within us.

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A group of passionate youth rose up and spoke out. They exclaimed straight from spirit that “before asking the people for their hand, we must ask for their heart”. They also said that language revitalization is about healing, reconciliation and belonging. We need to ask what re-learning our languages would mean for those “lost generations” to the residential school survivors. To bring life back to their beings and spirits. We must infiltrate and enforce our leadership, lead by example, use language whenever we can, adopt traditional roles and have hands on learning.

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Its time for us to come together and collectively heal. I believe in us.

Winnipeg’s Local Racial Inclusion Summit

Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The Centre of Canada and the heart of the prairies.
Thriving and bustling with multiculturalism, diversity, economic gain and industry progress. A meeting place of the Red and Assiniboine rivers. However . . . Winnipeg, Manitoba was also given the title of the most racist city in all of Canada while segregation and division among our ethnical communities still linger after the founding of the city.

After this public acquisition by Maclean’s magazine and after realizing the unfortunate truth that we are in fact a divided city, most of us realized that work had to be done. Our new elected Metis mayor Brian Bowman took the essential steps forward during this time of crisis by formulating the Indigenous advisory committee and creating/supporting community driven work and organizations.

Recently, a handful of youth leaders organized the “Local Racial Inclusion Summit” utilizing the hashtag #OurSummit. It was held at the same time of the mayor’s national summit on racial inclusion but the group felt some important local grassroots voices were missing from the conversation. The event invited and gave all local community members  from various ethnicities and nationalities the opportunity to join in various discussions about the division within our city, race relations, how to become better neighbours, how to enhance the relationship between non-Indigenous and Indigenous people’s and possible effective solutions moving forward.

The summit included a diverse range of speakers and the chance for community members to voice their thoughts on multiple topics including,

  1. Child and Family Services.
  2. Using dialogue to improve relations.
  3. Employment Income Assistance.
  4. Indigenous/Newcomer youth relations.
  5. Jobs and employment.
  6. Kids growing up in a corrupt world.
  7. Media.
  8. Missing and murdered men and women.
  9. Nutrition and food security.
  10. Moving past our racial mistakes.
  11. Systemic racism.
  12. Uniting humanity harmoniously.
  13. Water (Shoal Lake 40).

It was a beautiful and successful event and instilled the hope that it is possible to move forward as a city and work towards our relationships with one another. I personally wished to see much more in attendance but I understand that this is only the beginning. I hope that all of this momentum and hard work toward ways of reconciling and healing our communities continues and I hope that everyone in Winnipeg will someday be able to truly feel like a community instead of many divided smaller communities keeping to themselves. I only wish to see everyone intermingling together without borders, racism, discrimination or exclusion. Back in June of 2014 I co-organized an event called the “All Nation’s Youth Grand Entry” where my wish was to see youth of diverse backgrounds coming together as one, dancing and uniting and working together. Although that event went very well I was saddened back then to see such a lack of support from the various multicultural organizations that I had invited. Perhaps one day, sooner than later, we’ll see this happen. But for now, there is much work to be done and this racial inclusion summit made ways forward in a very positive way by encouraging dialogue, interaction between community members and brainstorming of solutions.

Question time!
Are there any important topics you think should have been brought up?
What are some ways we could move forward as a city and diminish the division that exists?
Any other thoughts on this matter?
Please leave your answers in the comments below, I encourage open conversation between everyone but please keep it respectful. Thank you.

I managed to capture some action shots from the event, hope you enjoy.
If you would like to learn more or would like more resources please visit www.groundworkforchange.org

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At the beginning of the event all community members in attendance were invited to partake in a group activity which challenged them to walk around the circle, introducing themselves. The activity then progressed to the next section where they were asked to partner with someone and each share their individual story.
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Community Members onlooking and supporting the various invited and local speakers, one specifically holding a sign with the word “love” written across. A common theme and attitude throughout the event.

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Rosanna Deerchild, A strong and empowering leader in our community, host of CBC radio’s “Unreserved” as she discusses the Maclean’s article, acknowledging the large challenging issue and ways to confront it and move forward positively.
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Breakout session on the topic of “Missing and Murdered Men & Women, We All Matter”.
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Topic “Uniting Humanity Harmoniously”. Conversation included the importance that we all live here on this one earth and must utilize and work together as one. One man also mentioned that he often felt excluded from important conversations due to targeted race demographics, he suggested the usage of calling on all of humanity rather than certain racial groups.
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Photo speaks for itself.
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The beginning of the march to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.
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The event concluded at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights with a leader of each breakout group reporting on some important points made in relation to their topic.

 

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What Does National Aboriginal Day Mean To You?

Every year on June 21st, National Aboriginal Day is celebrated in Canada. Now, I always tend to get completely cliche and exclaim that every day is “Aboriginal Day” for us as Indigenous people across North America because we live our realities, our cultures and celebrate our “Indigenousness” every day.

As for me, this year feels different. I’m in deep reflective mode lately (classic over-thinking Shan) about our growth as Indigenous people. I feel as though all Canadians have been embarking on a journey which includes but is not limited to:

  • The increased awareness of the 1,200+ cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls because of public marches, protests, dances and ceremonies. Because of the outcries from brave family members, the push for a national inquiry and for more support from our police force and the government. Because of the raised awareness that these mothers, sisters, aunts and daughters are being taken far too young and do not belong bound and found in our rivers. They are loved, remembered and respected and didn’t deserve the treatment they faced.

 

  • There is also an increased awareness about the residential school system era including the genocide of countless Indigenous children and the attempt to diminish our Indigenous cultures. So much has happened since the last school closed in 1997; formal apologies, investigations, healing circles and the told truth from various survivors and students who attended. There is also the increased understanding of the inter-generational effects that still effect our families and communities to this day.

 

  • The 60’s scoop has also been acknowledged. The stories of how many Indigenous children were taken from their families and placed in Non-Indigenous homes where many were faced with physical, emotional and sexual abuse and many never saw their families again.  There was also a formal apology from the Manitoba federal government to those children and their families.

There is a major shift in our Indigenous and Non-Indigenous communities toward reconciliation right now through these acts. Through raised awareness and education on our painful reality in Canada and the past issues that still haunt our communities to this day. There is action being done such as the implementation of Indigenous classes and the history being taught in our education systems, the invitations of our traditions into schools and events across the nation.

I also feel as though despite everything, our Indigenous communities are stronger than ever. We are reclaiming who we are as Indigenous people. We are relearning our traditions, our teachings, our languages and becoming increasingly proud in our identities. On top of that, all of us across North America and past those border lines are in a major time of healing and shifting. We are starting to discuss and become more aware of what had happened. We are educating and engaging all Canadians and communities across the globe of our rich history and our progressive ways forward. I am also seeing much interest from Non-Indigenous individuals to truly learn and help in any way that they can to work toward reconciliation . We are all making positive baby steps forward but we must keep going. We have much more work to do, much more healing to bring to our communities, our families and ourselves. We need to work on these new found relationships between all of us, we need to encourage our systems and our nations to take this journey with us. We need to re-establish trust and protect our children, our women and our communities.

This time of shifting is exciting and encouraging to witness. To see the healing taking place, to be a part of educating Canadians about our culture and our traditions through performing at different schools, events and gatherings across turtle island and internationally. I just hope this momentum doesn’t stop. I hope we continue to move forward. I hope that one day my children will see a world where our Indigenous women and men are protected and can feel safe in their own homes, that every community has clean running water, that they can continue to swim and witness the beauty of our lakes and oceans without the fear of polluted waters. I hope my children will see a strong nation and feel proud in who they are. I hope they will feel support from their leadership and governments.  I hope for a future where all Canadians are aware and truly equal. That’s all we can rely on is that hope. We must begin with ourselves which will then reach our families, our friends, then our communities and then hopefully across the nation.

Like I said, much work still needs to be done and I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks this. I hope this wasn’t too long of a rant but this has been on my mind for awhile. What does this particular day known as “National Aboriginal Day” mean to you? What does it mean to be a Canadian? I would love to hear from you! I also asked this question across my social media and here are some of the answers I recieved.

“Happy to those who join us to celebrate our heritage through good faith and a reminder of what our people have over came and we are still here as a sovereign nation no matter what tribe we come from nation to nation we are all related.” 

“Being proud in who we are. Celebrate our heritage.”

“Free Bannock.” 

“Showing pride that the government actually recognized us for one day!”

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Thanks for reading. Feel free to like, share or leave a comment!

What kind of post would you like to see next? Let me know by clicking HERE!

 

Summer Season – Fav Place In Winnipeg, MB!

I was recently challenged by EventBrite to participant in their Hometown Hunt online project and share one of my favourite local places during the summer season. I thought this would be a great opportunity to promote our little hometown city known as Winnipeg, MB and spotlight one of my favourite areas to visit and a place I would recommend anyone visiting in Winnipeg!

The exchange district is without a doubt one of my most favourite places in the city for a variety of reasons. Besides the beautiful architecture, character charm and historical aura . . . it offers support to small local businesses and artists. Just recently it has welcomed “Teri Beads” to the area which is an indigenous owned business that sells traditional indigenous materials and beads and also supports the indigenous community in Winnipeg.

The exchange also hosts a variety of engaging community events. Just recently they have hosted the 2015 JazzFest with a variety of unique musicians and bands at venues around in the district. Another bonus to the JazzFest is their free opening weekend with live local music playing at a stage known as “The Cube” right in the heart of the exchange district known as the old market square. This is always a wonderful opportunity for families and friends to gather and take in the sounds of good music and to enjoy the surrounding food/beverage vendors. Other exciting events that the exchange district plays host to is the Fringe festival which supports our local actors and performers, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, and many others that help bring our community together and support the up and coming businesses and artists.

In addition to this, the exchange district offers so much more such as a variety of artsy cafes, lounges, restaurants and bars with great food and great drinks and most offer live music or their own unique twist. The exchange district also offers walking tours of the area to recount the history of the area and to witness some of the popular venues or buildings with specific  meanings or rich character.

These are just some of the reasons why I enjoy the exchange district, particularly during the summer months. This is just a quick sneak peak into some of the things the area offers but there is so much more that could be said. If you are at all interested in learning a little more about what the district offers, feel free to visit their website! Also please feel free to visit the website of eventbrite and consider using it to help host an event in your community! They have a great event management page easy for anyone to use! Click here if you’d like to host an event!

Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed it! What’s your favourite place during the summer and why? Let me know in the comments below!

Take Care Everyone!

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Montreal, Quebec Adventures!

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At the end of January 2015, I had a chance to spend a weekend in Montreal, Quebec. I had recently been hired as a regional intern with a non-profit international development organization called, Development and Peace then they sent me on a plane to Montreal for an orientation and meet and greet weekend with all of the other interns from across Canada.

After our days of meetings, presentations and intense complex debates/dialogue we also had the chance to wind down and spend some time exploring the streets of Montreal. All of it was such an exciting and exhausting whirlwind of an adventure.

IMG_7385Our hotel was right in the middle of downtown Montreal, right in the heart of the beautiful city so it was easy for a group of us to just walk down the street and discover something new on every corner. My room was a small cozy area on the fourth floor with a gorgeous view of the sunrise every morning glistening on the rooftops and filling the room with an uplifting natural light. The only downfall was the very loud mini fridge and the constant sound of the elevator near by going up and down all night. Besides the noise it was a cute little room where I felt very comfortable and safe.

On the first evening after orientation we went out to dinner at a very busy restaurant (which I forget the name). After we finished our delicious meal we walked down the street to explore the shops and cobblestone roads. Besides the freezing cold temperatures and the bitter wind scuffling at our faces it was nice to venture around the streets and catch a hint of the Montreal essence.

On the second day after orientation we had time to do some more exploring before catching our flights back home. We jumped in a cab and told him to take us to the famous Notre Dame. It was beautiful. It was closed so we couldn’t witness the beauty from the inside but the outside was just as gorgeous. After that we walked around old Montreal for a while, marveling among the gorgeous old architecture and French style boutiques. We all instantly turned into the typical tourists, snapping as many pictures as we could with nearby sculptures and under intricately designed arches and doorways. We then walked through the cold up to a street full of small shops and restaurants and decided to go warm up with some soup. After our quick but exciting exploration it was time to head to the airport and begin our journeys back home.

I really wish we had more time to adventure around the city and I know for sure in the future I will be coming back to explore this beautiful city. I met so many inspiring and friendly people who I hope to keep in contact over the years and felt comfortable in cozy Montreal. I hope you guys enjoy the few photographs I was able to snap from the very short but pleasant trip from the weekend.

please leave a comment below with your blog because I’d love to check some new ones out! Also feel free to leave any suggestions for future posts or anything else you’d like to share, thank you so much for reading up to this point. Take care everyone!
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Reaching Out

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Hey guys,

The issue of violence has been bothering not only me but communities worldwide for quite sometime. Especially in my own home community of Manitoba, Canada where each day I’m constantly greeted with posts about missing persons, news reports announcing more and more violent events. I feel like violence is more prominent here in Canada that it has been ever before and it feels like it won’t ever stop. I can’t help to think of those effected by violence such as the families and communities with the growing cases of over 1181 missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada alone. The fact that verbal, sexual, physical and emotional abuse is still effecting families all over the world. The fact that a girl as young as 6 was found in critical condition after being sexually assaulted and left outside in the snow. The fact that a 13 year old girl was sexually assaulted and later found bound in our local river; tragedies such as this with victims too young for such awful things to happen to them as well the fact that abductions, wars, and many more horrific tragedies continue to happen each day.

One particular experience has stuck with me when I was at a performance for a group of elderly tourists from the U.S, one lady asked,

“The Native American people here in Canada are treated much better here though than in the U.S right?”

After that question, we all looked at each other and continued to say,

“We wouldn’t say that, our government system isn’t cooperating well with us and let alone the fact that there is over 1800 cases of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls that are often unsolved.”

At that moment we were greeted with gasps, disbelief, enormous amount of questions such as why? what’s being done? why is this happening? It was so incredibly overwhelming to learn that these individuals had never heard of what was happening and that there is probably much more individuals out there who aren’t aware. This one moment has stuck with me ever since that day. There is so much more we can be doing to outweigh the bad with the good and so much more work for us to do in terms of becoming aware ourselves and educating others on what’s happening.

I recently read Michael Champagnes post concerning violence as well and how important it is so spread love, spread awareness and even come together to pray in whatever form that may be. It inspired me to extend that invitation, to ask all that are reading this right now to find extra little ways to spread that love, to become aware of what’s going on, to begin more dialogue about the truth and to pray. Pray for the families who have lost loved ones, pray for those children living in fear, pray for world leadership to find ways to handle conflict in sincere and non-violent ways, pray for the world.

Let’s acknowledge and focus on the positive but remembering to keep ourselves aware and educated of what’s going on. There will always be good with the bad but if we all look out for each other, lend a supportive shoulder to cry on, lend a helping hand, come together and hope for the future, we just may create a beautiful contagious array of hope and love.

I hope you’ve made it to this point and thank you so much for hearing me out. I know for myself I will continue to focus on those who are doing good, to teach those around me the importance of respect and love, to continue to support families and communities who need it and find those small ways to help implant that positivity.

Pass On The Message
Love You All
– Shan

5 Reasons To Have More Live Music In Your Life.

IMG_7237 IMG_7226 IMG_7225IMG_7229 IMG_7234          I recently had the pleasure to take a break from studying and clear my mind to go witness beautiful live music with the smokey, flawless voice of Shakey Graves himself along with his musical buddies and opening artists, Esme Patterson and Rayland Baxter.  Shakey is an amazing singer/songwriter from Texas and embarked on a tour with two evenings in Winnipeg at the Park Theater. It was a quickly sold out show but on the morning of his performance they released a handful of tickets which I was able to pounce on and grab. I was so entirely grateful and I couldn’t contain my excitement as I had to finish my day of university classes. Even though it was a cold blustery evening and I was exhausted from my busy day I knew that I definitely did not want to miss this. Sure enough, I was not disappointed. I had entered into a theater full of like-minded individuals who were excited to see this one man and his guitar on stage. This particular night of music instilled the deeper love I have for live music and here are some reasons why:

The Energy Is Contagious
When you enter the room of raw emotion full of excitement and with groups of friends reuniting or the meeting of new friends, the sounds of laughter, cheers and hilarious outbursts from those witty tipsy people in attendance it can be rather contagious. The entire vibe of the room can envelope you into it’s world. Sounds incredibly cheezy; but it’s true. Those of you who have witnessed this know what I mean.

It Can Transform Your Mindset In An Instant.
I remember at one point during the show I just simply looked around the room and saw how the music was just flowing through everyone. It put an instant smile on my face to see so many people just letting loose, letting go and dancing like nobody was watching, it put an instant smile on face to see the pure joy plastered on everyone’s faces, to physically see how the music was just transforming their mindsets and everyone was just living in that moment and for that moment.

You, Yourself Can Get Lost In The Moment.
When you are surrounded by the sweet sounds of the artist on stage and surrounded by people who are letting all their worries go and fully enjoying that moment, you can’t help but get lost with them. All your worries seem to dissipate, reality is nothing but a blur for a while and your just there, in the moment, simply enjoying every bit of that universe and everything there.

Simple Pleasure Of Exploration And Discovery.
There’s something beautiful about going out, exploring, to find those hidden theaters or venues in an area of town you haven’t been to. There’s also something pleasurable about discovering a new band or artist such as the various opening acts or one that the artist themselves recommends. There can also be the discovery and meeting of new friends along the way.

Inspiration.
I don’t know if this is just me or if anyone can relate but in most cases when I go watch live music, I become instantly inspired and leave with that inspiration that lingers in my mind after for quite awhile. It can inspire and motivate many things such as pursuing that deep passion to create music yourself or to let out that singing voice just a little more into the world or to simply be yourself and not be ashamed of it. To enjoy the music you enjoy, to wear what you want to wear and do whatever your little heart desires because it what makes yourself happy that’s the most important.

If you have read this far, I thank you so much and I hope you agree with what I have wrote, what are other things you enjoy about live music? Leave them in the comments below! 🙂 Also I’m always up for suggestions for future posts so you can do that as well through contacting me or leaving some in the comments. One more thing to add, I’m always looking for new blogs to check out and follow so you can send me a link and I will for sure check them all out! Thanks!

Hope all of you are doing great! Take care for now!

West Coast Love Affair

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Traveled up to the West Coast of Canada a few times and can never get enough the breathtaking scenery of oceans and mountains and vast landscapes. I tend to go a little picture crazy. I figured many of you would appreciate these select few, they are some of my favorite shots that I captured while I was there. I have many more from where they came from so just comment below if you’d like to see more.