(From left) Elders Clarence (Agar) Wolfleg Sr., Reg Crowshoe, and Sykes Powderface tell traditional stories at the Calgary Spoken Word Festival.
Elders and youth project pays homage to the land
In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Calgary Spoken Word Festival, Sheri-D Wilson brought together Treaty 7 Elders and youth in a project that explored the First Nations understanding of poetry. “A Tribute to This Land – The Elder Project” connected Piikani Nation’s Reg Crowshoe, Kainai’s Sykes Powderface and Siksika’s Clarence Wolfleg Sr. with youth from Piitoayis Family School, Louis Riel School and Bow Valley High School. The Elders told the students traditional stories to which the youth responded artistically. The culmination of the project was Elder storytelling at Festival Hall on April 14 and the print publication of “A Tribute to this Land – The Elder Project,” which captured the students’ response to the Elders’ stories through art and poetry. As much as the project was a celebration of oral culture, it also paid tribute to the land. The Elders shared how their stories embodied educational teachings and learnings passed on from one generation to the next orally. A theme that recurred through the storytelling was the importance of respecting the land, as Mother Nature and the giver of life. The afternoon’s events also included an impassioned poetry reading by Louise Bernice Halfe, songs by Brent Scout and concluded with a song and drum performance by Cheryl L’Hirondelle and a round dance.
Renaming of Calgary Child Advocacy Centre
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was on hand for the renaming of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Calgary Child Advocacy Centre as the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre in early April. The child-focused centre is an integrated facility that provides healing for children, youth and families that have experienced abuse. Based on best practices in reporting, treatment and investigation of child abuse, the centre brings together several organizations as partners to ensure that children receive the best, compassionate care possible. “Our government will continue to stand up for victims of crime and their families,” said Harper. “Child abuse is a horrible crime that can haunt its victims their whole lives. We are proud to support the work of the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre to help abused children and their families recover, heal and grow stronger.” Both Sheldon Kennedy and Theoren Fleury have been outspoken about the abuses they endured from hockey coach Graham James. Kennedy said, “We are pleased that the Harper Government’s justice agenda focuses on holding violent criminals accountable for their crimes, enhancing the rights of victims and increasing the efficiency of our justice system. While work remains to be done in order to restore Canadian’s confidence in our justice system, the Harper government is taking concrete steps to put the rights of victims first.” The centre is a collaboration of the Calgary Police Service; Calgary and Area Child and Family Services, Alberta Human Services; Alberta Health Services and Calgary Crown Prosecutors Office, Alberta Justice.
Aboriginal Women’s Wellness Conference
On May 29 and 30 Indigenous Gatherings is presenting an Aboriginal Women’s Wellness Conference at the Four Points Sheraton, Calgary airport. Through shared stories, Aboriginal women will learn how to achieve balance and healthy lifestyles. Focusing on aspects of both physical and mental health, the conference’s aim is to inspire, to educate and to empower. Through her own story, award-winning special guest Star Nayea, a single mother and business owner, will inspire and motivate through the power of music. Among the numerous presenters sharing their wisdom and knowledge are family physician Dr. Lana Potts, Jillene Joseph of the Native Wellness Institute and Elder Margaret Waterchief. Everything from nutrition, fitness, financial well-being, goal setting and developing positive relationships will be covered.
YWCA’s Winter Emergency Program ends
With the advent of warmer weather, the YWCA’s Winter Emergency Response Project ended its temporary mat project on April 30. Throughout the winter months the shelter took in approximately 20 homeless women each night, offering a place to sleep, shower, eat and other basic needs. The mat program was added to the YWCA’s other housing options – six emergency beds and 94 short term beds at Mary Dover House, 41 community housing units and the Sherriff King Home Shelter for women and their children seeking refuge from family violence. The winter emergency program provided shelter for more than 395 women, providing 2,746 bed nights. Fifty-five per cent of the women served were Aboriginal; 39 per cent were Caucasian. Of those served, 44 per cent stayed one night, while the remaining 56 per cent stayed at least two nights and as many as 124 nights. To support its housing operations, the YWCA hosted its annual Keep a Roof Over Their Heads event on May 2, giving Calgarians a chance to experience homelessness by sleeping on a mat on the gym floor for a night. Among the participants were Calgary Currie MLA Christine Cusanelli and YWCA CEO, Sue Tomney.