Opinion: Constructing a spot to reconcile and restore collectively

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Whereas I am going by Doreen Healy, my Blackfoot identify is seebyhanhgyahkii, which suggests “evening singing girl”. I’m from the Blood (Kainai) Tribe in Southern Alberta and I’ve made my residence in Calgary since I moved right here at 17. I’m a residential college survivor. I used to be taken from my household at 5 years of age and attended residential college till I used to be 14. I’m writing at present, on the Nationwide Day for Fact and Reconciliation, asking for help for a challenge that’s pressing for our folks and communities.

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I’m on the board and provide steering as an elder for the Indigenous Gathering Place Society of Calgary.

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We’re working to construct a spot the place our elders can switch our information and tales to the following generations. We think about a spot the place younger folks will find out about their historical past and take satisfaction in who they’re. A spot for ceremony and celebration. We think about a spot, ideally on the confluence of the Elbow and Bow rivers, that’s accessible and welcoming for everybody, the place everybody who lives on this land will probably be obtained by us with hospitality. A spot the place relations will probably be made as all are invited to find out about our wealthy traditions and deep historical past with this land. Will probably be a spot the place we foster understanding of and compassion for our folks.

This work is pressing.

An Indigenous-led and -operated gathering place is pressing as a result of we have to heal from the harm of the final 150 years. Residential faculties did us nice hurt. We had been taught that we had been savages who wanted to turn out to be like Europeans. In my very own expertise, my identification was stolen from me. My identify was taken and I used to be given a quantity. My Blackfoot language was forbidden and I might solely communicate English. My freedom was taken as I used to be not allowed to go residence. And my voice was taken. I might solely communicate when spoken to and my concepts had been thought-about nugatory. Certainly, I used to be taught that I used to be value lower than different human beings. I used to be not proven love or taught learn how to love. The cruelty we skilled lingers within the lives of our households at present.

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Reconciliation is a journey by means of which Canadians are studying of those uncomfortable truths however studying itself isn’t sufficient. This journey should result in the reconciliation of relationships between Canadians and our folks. We want restoration of Indigenous languages and teachings, and time just isn’t on our aspect. We’re shedding our elders and knowledge-keepers as they’re passing on. We want restoration of dignity for these Indigenous individuals who have been seemed down on and excluded, to allow them to see that they do matter and have so many causes to be proud. And we’d like restoration of hope that Indigenous and non-Indigenous folks can stroll collectively as equals and thrive as an entire neighborhood.

We want a spot the place we will really feel related with our homelands, and the place Canadians can come to grasp our Indigenous methods of understanding.

This work is pressing as a result of 2027 will mark the a hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the signing of Treaty Seven and the treaty must be honoured. And it’s pressing as a result of 2027 is when Calgary will host the North American Indigenous Video games and the eyes of the world will probably be upon us.

I invite the residents of Calgary to help the Indigenous Gathering Place. In the present day, on the Nationwide Day for Fact and Reconciliation, do greater than put on an orange shirt. Take an energetic function by taking part in one of many many occasions taking place in and round Calgary, and by declaring your help for constructing a spot the place we heal, join, renew, and have fun Indigenous cultures. It’s inside attain. Go to our web site to study extra.

Doreen Healy is an elder and board member of the Indigenous Gathering Place Society of Calgary.

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