Highlights of Days Past

Did you ever listen to Ricky Skaggs on a long road trip to a pow-wow in Washington or sing along to Tanya Tucker while laying back in the truck?  Funny, how things that didn’t seem that special at the time make me smile on the inside now when I look back at those days spent with my family.

My Dad loved to drive all night, stopping only for a quick minute while my Mom only liked to drive during the day on our long road trips.  My sister and I would argue in the back seat with our comic books as our only entertainment.

There were no videos or ipads to keep us busy in the 70s and 80s.  I remember collecting ashes on the roadside after Mt. St. Helens erupted and getting scared driving on the side of a mountain on the going to the sun road.

I loved getting to a pow wow at some far away destiny, hearing the drums and seeing all the people, campers, tents and the beautiful teepees.  The best part was heading towards the arbour and seeing all of our friends and family.  It was usually dark outside when we rolled into camp and there were always lots of fire pits, laughter, families and a lot going on all around.

Why do I talk about Gatherings on the reserve so much you may ask?  It’s because I now live in an urban centre predominantly and know that many Indigenous people living in the city long for that sense of home.  If you hear a traditional song on the drum, you have a desire to join in a round dance or to sing along.

To me, our songs have always held a lot of meaning and have always reminded me of my parents, uncles, grandparents.  My ancestors may be watching down on me but they are always close to me and my thoughts in my daily journeys and struggles.

Last week was an eventful one here in Calgary.  Vibrant Communities Calgary, in partnership with St. Mary’s University and funded by the Government of Canada, hosted an evening with Elders here in Treaty 7.  The evening was highlighted by traditional food, new connections being made and wonderful teachings from our respected leaders.

On Friday night, I had an opportunity to attend the Southern Alberta Indigenous Youth Awards, hosted by Michelle Thrush at Mount Royal University.  Several young people from Treaty 7 won awards based on our traditional teachings and values.  The evening was highlighted by performances from our Youth and a great comedy routine by our hosts.  We even had a couple of MLAs in attendance who support the work being done with our Elders (whom reviewed over 50 nominations for these few treasured awards).

Congratulations to the winners, they deserve the recognition!  Finally, on the weekend, at Glenbow museum, there was a new documentary showcasing the Youth in the Child Welfare system.  It featured a panel discussion with Dr. Cindy Blackstock, our leader from the First Nations Caring Society. 

If you want any more information on upcoming events, as usual, please check out our websites http://www.vibrantcalgary.com/ or http://www.enoughforall.ca/.  I look forward to your feedback and meeting you soon, hopefully at our next community gathering.

-Pam Beebe

Pam is the Indigenous Strategist at Vibrant Communities Calgary.

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