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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3 6 5 Days Later . . .

1yearblogI can’t believe it’s already been a whole 365 days since the start of this little creative space!

I also can’t believe how much it has grown and how you guys are actually enjoying the content I put out there to the point where I receive such long sweet messages from readers. I only hope that this is the beginning and that it will continue to grow for another good handful of years.

Blogging is something that I really enjoy doing and hope to do for quite some time! I just want to take the time to thank each and every one of you who have either been here since the birth of ani[shan]aabe or even if your just discovering this blog and post right now! I also thank you if you’ve read, commented or shared these little posts. I appreciate all the love and support and I offer a huge cyber group hug to all of you! I only hope you’ll stick with me on my journey’s as  we move forward.

I have a lot of plans for year 2 in this space which include a lot of exciting things. I don’t want to give too much away because I rather not spoil the surprise for future posts but it does include some exciting travel and life changes but please stay tuned, I guarantee you’ll enjoy it very much!

I also get asked a lot for any tips or advice from individuals who have either started up a  new blog or if they are simply thinking about it. Below I will share some of my blogging wisdom :p and things I’ve learned throughout this year!

1) D E B A T I N G ?
If you are thinking about doing it . . .  DO IT! It’s a lot of fun.

2) P A S S I O N 
Make sure to share and write about things that you are passionate about, it shows in how you write. So if your not passionate about it or if it’s boring to you, most likely readers can tell.

3) V I S U A L S
Make sure to make it visually appealing. Readers always love a unique style blog and photographs to compliment your words.

4) C O N N E C T 
 Connect your blog with all of your social media outlets which could include, tumblr, twitter, facebook, etc. and once you publish a post you have the option to share with any or all of these outlets which can increase a great following and more potential readers.

5) W O R K  H A R D
Even if you only have 1 or no followers at all, still create the best content that you can because you never know who will drop by and read your stuff plus those few followers you have will appreciate your hard work.

6) C O M M U N I C A T I O N
Communication is key. If someone comments, its always nice to receive a reply or simply ask those who read what kind of posts they would like to see.

7) P E R F E C T I O N ? 
Your blog doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s taken a long time for me to develop this space into something I personally enjoy. You’ll probably go through multiple themes and changes and that’s totally okay! In fact, who knows what kind of future changes my blog may have,

8) C O N F I D E N C E
Don’t be so hard on yourself! I should take my own advice because I still have those moments where I feel low. Sometimes you see or read other blogs and you start comparing yours to theirs and that’s not cool. Be confident in your space and own it.

9) P R O M O T E 
Don’t be afraid to promote your blog! Share it with your family and friends, on social media or even comment on other similar blogs, its a great way to network with other like minded people and gain a few more readers as well!

10) B E   Y O U 
It’s okay to not do what everyone else is doing! Be unique, Be Weird, Be yourself. 🙂

Again, thank you so much for reading guys! I hope these few tips may help and that you continue to follow along in my adventures and I’m excited to share that with all of you!

In friendship,
– S H A N

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

World Indigenous Business Forum 2014!

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The Indigenous Leadership Development Institute Inc (ILDII) in Winnipeg helps organize the World Indigenous Business Forum (WIBF) with a community host in different parts of the world every year. This year it was hosted in Guatemala City at the West Camino Real Hotel in the heart of Guatemala and took place from October 28th – 30th.

The forum’s website states that the forum is a platform that engages Indigenous communities and their leaders in global discussion on economic development issues such as community, industry, academic and government and the varying challenges/successes. The forum operates on the seven generational thinking that provides sustainable prosperity for children and the children seven generations on. The first portion was connecting and networking of indigenous communities and their leaders. The second portion was sharing knowledge and strategies for community development and the third included inspiring diverse speakers from around the globe to motivate future endeavors of economic success.

I had the privilege to participate and listen to the various speakers and it was interesting to see similarities between all nations in attendance such as the hope to alleviate poverty through focuses on investment and financial strategies and the importance to maintain cultural practice to sustain their heritage for future generations. It was very inspiring to see Indigenous leadership participating in this forum through networking, learning and being able to relate to one another. I also believe it was very appropriate and important to have different levels of Indigenous individuals involved in the forum such as individuals at the grassroots level, local Indigenous communities, individuals who owned their own companies and leaders such as the president of Guatemala. It is important to include and engage all members of a community in the dialogue towards economic development for the success of communities in the future and to participate in the learning process toward a better economy with the use of efficiency, effectiveness, self-reliance and sustainability.

I also had the opportunity to showcase the Indigenous hoop dance to everyone in attendance which left me with a sense of pride to showcase and represent my home community and my brother, Jesse Spence, was also able to showcase the grass dance. Youth from Fisher River Cree Nation were also able to showcase their unique styles of powwow dance. I believe we all finished feeling proud to be able to educate all of these different communities in attendance of our culture, dance, songs and ultimately ourselves as individual, unique, proud indigenous youth.

Overall, it was an amazing experience and it truly inspired me and embedded a deep hope that it is possible for nations to come together in peace to learn from each other, grow and help each other toward positive, sustainable economic development. Next year, the forum will be held in the beautiful land of Hawaii. If you have any further questions or would like to become involved in such a wonderful event please visit their website at http://www.wibf.ca. Also feel free to search #WIBF2014 to see a glimpse of this years forum.

Thanks for reading!

A P O E M

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The Performance of the World

For strength. To embrace me,
I can recognize its brevity,
Surviving among impulsive disasters.
For evolution, revolution,
And time. To withhold
Dreams, imploding at the seams, inspire,
Open our minds. To maintain
And protect damage – of land
From populations pollutants, of toxicity
From each nation. To thrive.
To pry open our eyes from
padlocked visions. To enhance the reflections.
To be reminiscent of the true power.
To arouse cultures and states,
And trick our minds of divine beauty’s meaning,
Bringing us closer to the light. To be
Connected, picturesque, state of mind.
To provoke change, commence humanity, like a game
of chance I’m constantly playing
But was informed of no victor.
Write antiquities, evolve.

Hey guys! Sometimes I like to unleash the inner creative poet within me and it helps to be taking a creative writing class in university at the moment to suck out all of my creative juices and plaster them on to paper. There are much more poems and short fictions I wrote so if any of you are interested in reading more I can start posting some? Let me know in the comments. I may surprise all of you with a poem here or there anyway in the future. I also thought that the images I captured on a sunset on a spontaneous beautiful evening complimented this poem very well. Hope you enjoyed. Thanks for reading. 🙂

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.

Indigenous Hoop Dance

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Hey Everyone! First of all, I would like to apologize for my absence from this blog. Classes have started, I’ve already caught the “change of the season” cold, I’ve been super busy and I had an extreme case of writer’s block and couldn’t think of anything to write.

However, I thought I would discuss the Indigenous Hoop Dance for you all since I think many of you don’t fully understand the reasoning for why I do what I do or what it is that I do. Let me give you some insight into my world…

I was introduced to the hoop dance at 13 and have continued to practice and grow with it over 7 years now. The teachings I was given was that it was used for storytelling, guidance/direction and healing. People would come to this individual if they were seeking guidance and/or healing in their lives and once this individual would dance it would show them the answers they were looking for in order to move forward in positive ways. It was also used for storytelling in the way the hoops intertwine and move to create images and dancing designs of many different things such as animals, things of nature, humans, etc. The hoop dance also symbolizes the importance of keeping a healthy balance in life including the 4 important areas of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual and understanding the negatives and positives that come with it. I was also told that the hoop dance could symbolize deeper meanings such as the circle of life it’s self. Most hoop dancers will have the four directions on their hoops which represents that medicine wheel and journey we take in life beginning as a newborn, throughout childhood, young adult, as an elder and then beginning that circle once again.

These are quite similar to the reasons why I dance and what I keep in mind while dancing. I dance for that healing, not only for myself but for my community and all Indigenous people. We have faced the residential school system, oppression, complications within child and family services, suicide rates among our youth and many more experiences that have led to inter-generational effects and hurting within our communities. One of the main things we are still facing is the 1181+ missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. I dance for them, their families and their communities. I also dance for the showcasing of positive cultural pride, to break down those stereotypes and not only show the beauty of our heritage but also educate those who are willing to watch about the history and culture of Indigenous people in Canada.

I also dance for the youth, to stand up and dance along side of them for sustainable futures and the next generation. I want to inspire the younger ones that they can do anything they set their minds too and that just because you are an Indigenous person does not make you anything less even though negative connotations can in some ways unfortunately make them feel that way. Also, the fact that I am a woman and can hoop dance also gives a sense of that empowerment because of the fact that so many are used to seeing primarily males hoop dancing. It’s something new, exciting and different and I believe that this empowerment is also felt by the younger girls that I teach. I was incredibly happy and looked up to many other women I saw hoop dancing growing up such as Lisa Odjig.  On top of everything and what ties all of that together is the entertainment aspect of why I dance. To make myself and others happy through that storytelling concept and some fancy moves hidden in between. I enjoy the process through learning and watching other hoop dancers and I hope to continue to do this for a long time. I will also be travelling to the world championships in Arizona next year so you can anticipate a blog post about my experience there along with some photographs!

Thank you so much for reading, if you have gotten this far! I will be posting a lot more often, so stay tuned!

Travelled Northern Manitoba

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I’M BACK!

Hello wonderful people! I feel like I haven’t written a post in a very long time & that is true so I am sorry for the lack of content & for my foolish unmotivated ways. Anyways… I have a nice adventure to fill you in on!

During the week of July 27th – August 4th I travelled up north in Manitoba with the family. We drove up to The Pas and visited some family in OCN then caught the train to Pukatawagon, Manitoba which consisted of a slow 12 hour ride full of hyper restless children, bone chilling air conditioning, beautiful northern scenery and the fresh smells of the outdoors. Luckily we managed to keep ourselves productive and occupied through that journey. Once we arrived in Puk we met up with more family; cousins, aunties, uncles, etc! During our stay up in Puk we danced everyday at their powwow which took place at their youth center for 3 days. We all felt so grateful for their wonderful hospitality, friendliness, and welcoming arms. We also had the chance to explore the area. Swimming at high rock, shopping at the Northern, driving up to the airport, carpooling to the sweat/sundance grounds and climbing up the Pukatawagon “mountain” and taking in the sights. I felt so humble and proud to meet so many strong women and family members who I am related to and share ancestry (sorry for the cheezyness). After the trip to Puk we headed back down the province to camp for one night in Clearwater Lake at the Guy Hill Residential School Gathering that was taking place. As we approached the grounds we all sat silent through the drive down the long, twisted, eerie gravel road with nothing but brush and solemness as we thought about those young children that were forcibly taken from their families and taken to this place. Some of my relatives attended this residential school which had one of the bad reputations of horrific abuse. My family and I had the chance to learn about local medicines and how to identify them. We also heard many stories that I will forever hold in my memory and we were surrounded by the spoken language of Cree which I was particularly grateful for since I would really like to learn it. After our stay at the grounds, I left feeling like I had the responsibility to keep the memory of these elders and their stories alive and to further educate people on what was on the residential school system and the effects it still has on our communities today. I also left feeling incredibly grateful to be surrounded by such strong, loving relatives and lucky to have had this experience and meet all those people. After we had left, we returned back to some civilization back in The Pas where we went to visit my grandpa who had passed away approximately 4 years ago. It was a lovely way to end our trip and we are all happy to be back on the road to hit back for home. 

After this trip and the entire experience I felt so much more grateful and humble for the experiences I have had in my life so far and grateful for the chance to see, hear, listen and learn from my family, elders and community. I hope to carry these memories far off into the future and educate others on what I have experienced in hopes of continuing the memory and not allowing our important indigenous heritage/culture fade away throughout the years.

I look forward to travelling back up north to possibly teach and host workshops on our culture, specifying on the hoop dance since their was a great interest from the community for that. I also want to find a way to give back to the community of Pukatawagon for everything they had done for us during our stay. I came home feeling a sense of renewal. I captured much more images of our time up north, if you would like to see more just “like” this post or comment down below requesting them! I must just do an extended post to showcase the beautiful images I had captured throughout our trip!

Thanks for reading! Much Love

Adventure Is Just Around The Corner. Literally.

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If you are anything like me, you tend to crave adventure. 

This past month, I had the chance to visit the old jails on Vaughn Street here in our little city and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The old, grotesque and odd stories of past sinister villains, public hangings and other oddities that had happened there filled my mind with awe and wonderment as I tried to picture the things we were being told; some of the stories happened as recently as the 1960’s! The tour continued as we were brought down into the basement into the actual old jail cells where they continued to tell us horrifying stories of past prisoners and other things that had gone down in the spaces we were standing.

My advice to you is that if you don’t have the funds for an extravagant trip, or if you don’t have the time or simply want to fill that void of adventure but would like to stay close to home go out and explore that area of your city or town that you’ve never been before. Book a tour of an old building or a part of your hometown that has a lot of history. You’ll be surprised to learn about things you’ve never known before in your own backyard.

Thanks for reading, Hope you are all doing well!
P.S – Stay tuned for more adventure & photography type posts, summer is here & will be full of travel! 🙂