SEIU-West Multicultural Mentorship Committee (MMC) members and First Nations Métis Inuit Committee (FNMIC) members attended the 2022 Wicihitowin Conference and have provided the following reports:
Angie (First Nations Métis Inuit Committee)
I was very fortunate to attend the Wicihitowin Conference. I’m First Nations and my grandmother was a Residential School survivor.
The speakers, Neil and April, were amazing. The Sweet Grass Singers opened up, I personally loved the drums and the singing. Also the dancers were amazing. I liked how they told us "Bearing Witness" comes with responsibility to roll up our sleeves and give a hand. I also believe I’m a witness for life and have a responsibility to people to help where I can. I also believe that I wasn’t taught my culture, because my grandmother never was taught hers, so the lineage teachings weren’t passed down.
In learning from our elders about intergenerational trauma, maybe we can understand and educate the younger generation.
I can’t remember who said it, "In a lodge you can only watch the dance for so long before you join in the dance."
Myrna (First Nations Métis Inuit Committee)
The two days were spent reflecting on Bearing Witness of the past and moving forward in the future so this does not repeat again. Bearing witness is a way to share with others to lighten the burden and have support, with knowledge of the past bringing an awareness. Truth and Reconciliation is moving forward with forgiveness and never forgetting so this never happens again. The youth have seen and felt the repercussions of the events from generations and are advocating and will continue to pass this on.
This event was the last one. Hopefully it finds the way to carry on. It brings so much understanding and awareness to all persons and provides continuous support with the understanding of Truth and Reconciliation.
Yolanda (Multicultural Mentorship Committee)
What I've learned from the two-day conference of Wicihitowin:
I now better understand the Indigenous peoples and what happened to them in the past. The way they were treated before stays with them until now. The pain, hurt, and sorrow that they experienced in the past hurts them even today and passes on from old generations to new ones. By learning all this I now have a better understanding of Indigenous peoples and I have my respect for them, they've had to face so much suffering that they didn't deserve. Going to this conference has changed how I see them, I'm so glad that I was able to experience this two-day event. Thanks to SEIU-West for making it possible for me to attend.
Claudia (Multicultural Mentorship Committee)
This conference was about reconciliation and I found it very interesting. One of the speakers, Rick Daniels, was one of the counsellors from when I upgraded my education at Kelsey. He was the counsellor for provincial training allowance, which assisted us to stay in school. He pushed me hard to stay in school. I had every excuse not to continue education, but he insisted I needed an education. I went on to get my CCA and have been working ever since as a CCA. We spoke at the conference, and I told him that he was a huge influence in me continuing my education. At lunch time, the MC, Neal Kiwistep, came up to us and asked how everything was. I told him that I was so shocked to hear Rick’s story. I didn’t know anything of his background. I explained everything he did for me. It made sense why he was so good to us and didn’t give up on us, after hearing his story as residential school survivor. In the afternoon, Neal acknowledged me in his speech to everyone with a special shout out.
Reconciliation is not about blame or fault, it is about education and respect. Indigenous people don’t want money thrown at them, they want to move forward and be a part of society where they are not judged.
I also got to talk with Chief Delorme. He actually remembered me from the pride walk in Regina. I had asked him to take a picture of him with us, without knowing that he was a Chief. He was an amazing spokesperson who called for us all to move forward better.
In the community, I’ve heard a lot of racism and going to this conference made me realize the truth and struggles are far different from stereotypes and prejudices that exist in Saskatchewan.
I felt very proud and honoured to represent SEIU-West and having a shout out to me as an SEIU-West member. I am so thankful that SEIU-West sent me and I had this experience and learned so much.