Youth in Sturgeon Lake focus on tradition and justice

By: Damon Badger Heit October, 2011

Sturgeon Lake First Nation, roughly 55km’s north of Prince Albert, works collaboratively with justice, education, Indian family services, health and administrative service portfolios to provide cultural activities for the community. This year, these collaborative efforts are reconnecting youth and community to customary traditions of community justice.

Project Coordinator Isadoor ‘Izzy’ Wichihin, says the best way to ensure youth of Sturgeon Lake First Nation enter into a global culture with a strong Cree identity, in the modern context, is to ensure that cultural knowledge is being transmitted consistently and repetitively in a collaborative effort across all agencies in the First Nation. “We are trying to reconnect with the inherent laws of the people, “Wichihin explains.

“We’re trying to reclaim customs, practices and beliefs. We talk about where we are in our society in globalization.”

As part of this process, funding from SaskCulture’s Aboriginal Arts and Culture Leadership grant is funding three gatherings in the community, one of which, a mini Pow wow, took place this past year in Sturgeon Lake.

“Every year we hold culture camps. This is the first year for a mini Pow Wow,” says Wichihin. “We’re trying to recapture a traditional way of life to establish projects and activities, such as storytelling and sweat lodges to reconnect with our core values. We also have break-out sessions for men and women”, to help them learn and understand, “their roles and responsibilities in the community. We do this annually two to three times a year.”

The mini Pow Wow, launched on July 15th, included 40 dancers from the Indian Child and Family Services program, along with six drum groups from the community. Roughly 200 people were in attendance along with elders and family members from off reserve. Lawyer Sylvia McAdam, who attended as one of the speakers, spoke about Indigenous law as part of an educational component to the gathering.

“SaskCulture funded this first mini pow wow which was a huge success,” adds Wichihin. “We had an opportunity to honor the workers and leaders who assist in the wellness of the community.”

The Aboriginal Arts and Culture Leadership grant, administered by SaskCulture, aims to support the transmission of cultural knowledge to youth people through cultural activities and mentorships.