New Prince Albert non-profit working to unite and support Indigenous peoples

Herald file photo. A round dance at Paspiwin Cultural Heritage Site in August 2019.

A new non-profit organization in Prince Albert is providing support and kinship for Indigenous peoples.

The Northern Prairie Indigenous Peoples Collective was incorporated as a non-profit organization in March.

President Janice Henry said it’s a local branch of the Association of Metis, Non and Status Indians Saskatchewan (AMNSIS), which aims to bring “families together that the Indian Act and other legislation has disconnected,” according to its website.

“Our role here is to enhance pre-existing resources and to provide our own support out to the communities because there are a lot of people who we felt had fallen through the cracks,” said Henry.

“We have a huge population who are, unfortunately, social service recipients or on assistance and those funds are very, very limited. You look at the children, and you look at ‘How can we support these families to a greater degree?’”

For example, Henry said the organization distributed Walmart gift cards from AMNSIS to support low-income families.

“Our economy is brutal and our people are struggling and many are starving because they just can’t afford to feed themselves,” she said.

“I’m not saying this one thing is going to be the answer to everything, it’s obviously just a small portion – but it’s a beginning.”

Northern Prairie Indigenous Peoples Collective’s membership has grown to about 240 First Nation and Metis families. They aim to include Indigenous peoples in various issues and topics that impact them, such as justice, health, education and youth.

To bring the Indigenous community together, Henry said the non-profit is hosting a summer solstice gathering to celebrate their culture. It will take place at the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre next Wednesday, Aug. 23, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Workshops will be taking place throughout the building. This includes teepee pole teachings, drum and fiddle teachings, traditional parenting, moccasin classes, jigging, pow wow dancing, beading and Metis pointalism.

“It’s all about kinship, and it’s also about embracing our culture and customs and respecting ourselves and learning to love ourselves,” Henry explained.

A light lunch, snacks and beverages will be available throughout the day, followed by a feast and entertainment in the evening. The event is open to the public.

Northern Prairie Indigenous Peoples Collective also has a logo design contest going on until Aug. 30. Henry said all ages are welcome to submit logo ideas that incorporate kinship and the Indigenous culture to @JournalistJayda