Calgary neighbours unite with Indigenous community in effort to strengthen relationships

CALGARY — In the spirit of respect and reconciliation, Calgary neighbours invited members of Tsuu’tina nation to the community of Lake Bonavista this weekend in a celebration of friendship and culture.

The three-day grassroots event spanning from Friday to Sunday at Andrew Sibbald Elementary is called SOAR (Speak Out Against Racism) and comes with the slogan ‘Gwanistti Naniya’, which is a Tsuut’ina expression for ‘I’m glad you came.’

Lake Bonavista resident Renee Price came up with the idea for the free public event in consultation with Indigenous advisers. It includes a variety of activities which allows people to learn basic Indigenous crafts such as beadwork and hide scraping, drum making, along with hands games and a special powwow.

“Indigenous people are the fastest growing population in Canada, and their businesses are growing leaps and bounds,” Price said.

“We need to be supporting their businesses, their culture, in order for our communities and our culture to be strong. I want to remove the fear. I think when we have the opportunity through exposure to develop relationships and to create friendships, then people aren’t painted with a broad brush of stereotypes.”

An Indigenous market is operating outdoors throughout the weekend along with a variety of special performances including comedian Cindy Rivers and her sharing of oral traditions.

Joseph Nakota came all the way to Calgary from the Alexander First Nation northeast of Edmonton. He came as an ‘oscapio’ which means ‘creator’s helper.’

His goal is to share stories from his people, while learning about the traditions of others.

When we unite together, when we build together and when we share together, we help each other together,” Nakota said.

“That’s the only way that this will be positive for everyone.”

The event also offers the public the opportunity to sleep overnight and rent out one of four tipis and participate in an Orange shirt walk scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Sunday in honour of Indigenous children who lost their lives in Canada’s residential school system.

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