A Week in the Life of an Indigenous Strategist

I had the opportunity to hear from some incredible Indigenous leaders over the past week.  There were so many that it’s hard to determine who to best highlight.  I was fortunate to be invited to the Making of Treaty 7  in Tsuu T’ina last week.  I attended the Soul of the Next Economy  at Ambrose University on the weekend and over the last two days, I was at the University of Calgary for the Resolve Conference  hosted with Awo Taan Healing Lodge.  If you want to attend any upcoming events, you can always check our website events page or sign up for the weekly newsletter (scroll down to the bottom of the page for the sign-up link.)

I think that if you have the opportunity, you need to hear Constable Cindy Provost speak and you need to hear from Sandra Sutter.  Ms. Provost is a First Nations woman from Piikani Nation and Ms. Sutter is Cree Metis.  They both have really amazing stories to share of where they are from and the knowledge they have obtained over the years.  I have heard and experienced many types of loss over the years but their accounts of history were still able to move me emotionally.  What stands out for me though is that both of them continue to lead and give back to the community in meaningful, thoughtful and very important ways.  They are both leading successful careers and actively involved within the Indigenous communities here in Blackfoot Territory.

Calgary is home to thousands of Indigenous people who work here, study here and contribute to our economy.  We are eagerly anticipating how the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are implemented and what that means for all people in Calgary.  I think that it will lead to prosperity for the entire community as everyone will have the opportunity to fully participate and be involved in this city.  As the Indigenous Strategist, here at VCC, I am building connections and helping to create a plan that moves us towards our goal within the Enough For All Strategy.  I have attended meetings and held an information session in the past so that we can better understand the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

I have lived in Calgary many years (recently more than five but I also lived here in the 80s and in the 90s) and I still get asked a lot of questions.  Just last night, at an event, I was asked “Why do people move off the reserve?”.  I am no expert but I know that the water is not great, housing is a scarcity, there is no public transit, jobs are few and my home, the Kainai Nation, does not offer a Bachelor’s degree in my field.  These are just a few reasons why I have always moved away from the reserve and settled in the city.  However, I have many family members who have not moved away from their reserve and who choose to raise their families on reserve.  When the young people come to the city for school, it would be great if we had more affordable housing and childcare.  It would also be great if they felt welcomed and part of our great city.  Which brings me back to the two speakers that I highlighted.  They are just two of our leaders that I hope you have the chance to meet and hear from as they share their knowledge and expertise with us, the people of Calgary.

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