Resilience and Respect: Canada 150 and Beyond

By: SaskCulture Staff January, 2018

During Canada’s sesquicentennial year, SaskCulture had the opportunity to work in a partnership to support the preservation of Indigenous languages, as well as building more meaningful, long- term relationships with Indigenous cultural organizations in the province.

Inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, SaskCulture brought together project partners Buffalo People Arts Institute, Gabriel Dumont Institute (GDI), Saskatchewan Aboriginal Writers Circle Inc., Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre (SICC) and the Saskatchewan Arts Board, to deliver their own projects held in 2017 as part of Resilience and Respect: Canada 150 and Beyond. The Resilience and Respect projects were conducted with guidance and support by community members, Elders and many others, and supported with funding from Canadian Heritage’s Canada 150 Fund.

The year-long Resilience and Respect project concluded with two gatherings hosted by SaskCulture. “Both gatherings, one in Saskatoon, and one in Regina, tied all of the projects together and shared and celebrated the experiences and outcomes from the past year,” explains Damon Badger Heit, project coordinator and consultant for SaskCulture.

The gathering in Saskatoon, held on January 25-26, 2018, was held over two days that included time for partners to meet and share their experiences, as well as opportunities to share and connect with members of First Nations and Métis communities, provincial cultural organizations, schools, districts and municipalities.

“The partners meeting was a chance for everyone to debrief after an action-packed year with many profound moments and lessons for all who participated,” notes Badger Heit.

On day two, the partners’ project videos were premiered, followed by short presentations by each partner featuring highlights, achievements and plans for going forward. The audience was also introduced to staff from other organizations from around the province who are doing important work with Indigenous communities, including: File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council; the Saskatoon Tribal Council; the Chief Poundmaker Museum; GDI; OUTSaskatoon; and the Gordon Tootoosis

Nīkānīwin Theatre. It was an opportunity to hear about the important work they do in the areas of language and culture revitalization.

On February 1-2, 2018, the second gathering for Resilience and Respect, held at the new mâmawêyatitân centre in North Central Regina, focused on the next generation of Indigenous cultural leaders, with Scott Collegiate students as the primary audience. Over the two days, all students participated in a myriad of workshops led by Indigenous Elders, artists and cultural workers who shared First Nations and Métis languages, traditions, storytelling, music and artistry.  The evening’s events, held in partnership with the annual Sâkêwêwak Aboriginal Storytellers Festival, promoted wider community engagement, and boasted more Indigenous creativity, talent and inspiration, featuring  N’we Jinan and Patuanak youth, Bryden Gwiss Kiwenzie, See Monsters and DJ Shub, in addition to an intergenerational art project with author Harold Johnson and artist Harmony Johnson-Harder.

The gatherings brought together the Resilience and Respect project partners with the broader cultural community with a view to creating opportunities for partnership and growth, and supporting positive changes needed in Saskatchewan communities and cultural organizations, while underscoring the resilience of Indigenous peoples, cultures and languages.

The gathering in Saskatoon was the perfect opportunity to announce SaskCulture’s new partnership with the Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre (SICC) to help support the delivery of the Aboriginal Languages Initiative grant, funded by Canadian Heritage.

According to Rose Gilks, CEO, SaskCulture, “This is an exciting time for SaskCulture.  We are pleased to be working with SICC, which has a long history of working to preserve and protect First Nations languages and cultures. Combined with SaskCulture’s funding expertise and infrastructure, this partnership will help support and reinvigorate First Nations cultures into the future.”