Group of elders excited to attend national gathering

Thanks to the Northern Lights Community Development Corporation, a group of northern elders will be able to take in a historic gathering.

This fall, First Nations, Métis and Inuit elders representing more than 600 groups from across Canada will all gather in Edmonton for the first-ever national gathering of elders. The event is scheduled for Sept. 11-14.

The event is intended to help elders learn from each other about culture, traditions and history in an enjoyable and respectful manner.

A group of nine elders from the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation (KCN) have received funding to attend.

One of the attendees, Chief John Dorion, said it’s a unique opportunity for the Cumberland House-based group.

“A lot of our elders don’t get to go out to big conferences like that. It would be really good for the elders to meet other elders.”

Dorion is based here in P.A., but the other elders are all up in Cumberland House. They still speak their Cree language and live their traditional lifestyle. Dorion would like to see more of those traditions passed on to the younger generations, and thinks this event could help his band facilitate that.

“We’ve lost a lot of the values I learned as a kid in Cumberland. They’re called relationship teachings,” Dorion said.

“Those teachings are no longer taught. The community has changed as a result. I think those values are still relevant today. I would like to bring them back into the community. They were use to develop strong, healthy communities.”

While KCN has been mired in legal battles in the past as they try to have their nation formally recognized by FSIN and by the federal government, Dorion insists the Sept. conference is only about a cultural exchange, not about politics.

“We’re going there for the culture. We’re not going for the politics,” he said.

“I’d like to take in their presentations. That’s what I’m really looking forward to because I’m also a teacher I’m very interested in the type of information we’ll pick up from the conference.

In addition to a trade show, talent show and social dance for elders, the conference will feature discussion forums surrounding topics such as climate changed, missing and murdered Indigenous women, revitalization of Indigenous language and culture, and reconciliation.

Dorion is pleased that, with the donation from the community foundation, the elders will be able to go.

“We’re all excited. We are ready to go. It’s only a couple of months away,” he said.

“I believe we will really pick up a lot of information we can use to develop a healthy and strong community in Cumberland House.”