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Weekly Speaker Program

August 21, 2017: Tanya Ward-Shur, Red Deer Native Friendship Society

Terry Felton introduced our speaker Tanya Ward-Shur from the Red Deer Native Friendship Society http://rdnfs.com/. Tanya is Blackfoot Metis and holds a MA in Leadership Studies. She spoke with passion at the District 5360 conference.

Tanya started her presentation with a smudge ceremony, explaining its significance, and followed with the Medicine Wheel.

Next we viewed the history of First Nations/Whites from the aboriginal perspective, "Just get over it" . For those not present, it's an eye-opener https://youtu.be/r5DrXZUIinU

She recommended a book called "The Inconvenient Indian" by Thomas King.

In the end, it's all about land. Aboriginal people view the land as their mother. The land grab by immigrants resulted in a systematic and planned effort to eliminate the Indian culture by such means as denying the right to vote, isolating and restricting tribes on reservations, taking native children away from their families and brainwashing them in residential schools for 7 generations and other actions. This has resulted in cultural, historical and intergenerational trauma. The effects on First Nations people have been horrendous, and are marked with harsh statistics on suicide, addiction, life expectancy, child mortality, education and other aspects. The fact that there are over 100 reserves within Canada that do not have potable water is, frankly, shameful.

In response, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, now under the auspices of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Winnipeg, issued 94 calls of action in 2015. You can read this report here: http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Findings/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf

In addition, Canada has now adopted the United Nations "Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples", which can be found here: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/DRIPS_en.pdf

The objective at this point in time is to move forward together, to live as one. This will be a long and muddy path to overcome the guilt and shame of our white ancestors and the hate and resentment of the aboriginals.

So what can we do? Tanya provided a Project of Heart:

  1. Learn indigenous history
  2. Learn the history of where you live
  3. Create a gesture of reconciliation
  4. Meet and listen to a survivor of the residential schools
  5. Do social justice
  6. Join the community conversation

An example of a gesture of reconciliation may be found in Rotary Red Deer's support for the Peace Path at the Asooahum crossing http://www.reddeeradvocate.com/life/coyote-tales-indigenous-presence-for-canada-150/

Here in Calgary, the Calgary Aboriginal Urban Affairs Committee has issued a report called "White Goose Flying" http://www.calgary.ca/CSPS/CNS/Documents/CAUAC/White-Goose-Flying-Calls-to-Action-CAUAC.pdf. You can support the Calgary Indigenous Friendship Centre http://calgaryfriendshipcentre.ca/.

Dan Doherty, who has a long history helping First Nations youth, thanked our speaker for a very moving and thought-provoking presentation.

  • Ben Kormos, Tanya Ward-Shur, and Dan Doherty Ben Kormos, Tanya Ward-Shur, and Dan Doherty

reported by Duncan Stanners

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