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National Indigenous Peoples Day: You are invited!

National Indigenous Peoples Day is Thursday at June 21st and you are invited to a giant celebration of the day right in your backyard at Trout Lake. Festivities run from 9am-11 at the Friendship Centre and then from 11:30-5 at Trout Lake. Details can be found here:

Let me address why you should come and also maybe a bit about how to be there.Many people have asked, am I welcome there? Isn’t this an event for Indigenous People? The answer is, yes, you are welcome, and even encouraged to come. It is an event for Indigenous Peoples, but they want to share their stories, their cultures, their dances with their neighbours, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike. An elder once asked me, “how come Christians only want to know us at our most vulnerable? They connect with the addict, the homeless and with our children. Why don’t they want to know us also in our strength, through our dances and culture and songs? It seems like you want to see us as someone to help but not as someone who has something to give.” Come and receive the gifts being offered.

And now, a word or two about how to come and receive those gifts. All are welcome. However, if you are non-Indigenous you might not always feel welcome. This is of course a cross-cultural experience. Welcome is a culturally informed practice. Teaching is also a culturally informed practice. From my cultural perspective you show interest in something new by asking lots of questions and the teacher/expert gives lots of answers. If there are a lot of words exchanged then it was a meaningful interaction. In some of the indigenous spaces I have been in this has not been the case and higher value was placed on observation and trying something rather knowing something and talking about it. The most poigniant example for me was watching some drummers teach young children to drum. There was no explanation, but a drumstick was placed in their hands and they were invited to participate. When they were out of sync with the other drummers the drumstick itself would vibrate and “tell them” something was wrong. In coming into a different cultural space this doesn’t mean never ask questions. Just realize that the ways we ask questions and that answers are given are culturally informed.

Hope to see you there!