Creating harmony and bringing people together are the motivations behind Indigenous Week in St. Paul. This week will be the first time the community has held the celebrations, in hopes it growing to an annual event, says Executive Director of the Mannawanis Friendship Centre in St. Paul Hinano Rosa.
The events started yesterday with a pipe ceremony in the morning, “in the Indigenous culture, the pipe ceremony opens everything; it leads the way,” says Rosa. Next was the unveiling of the latest Champions for Change plaques honouring Jim Brady. Brady, born in 1908, grew up in St. Paul des Metis which was the largest Metis community in Alberta. Known for speaking out against the war and Indigenous oppression, Brady and a friend went missing in 1967. Many believe the men were murdered due to political affiliations, however despite an extensive RCMP search they were never found and murder allegations were never proven.
Following the plague unveiling, a community sweat lodge was held in Legacy Park. “People are asking about doing another one sometime this week because it was so well-received in this community,” Rosa says there was 22 people in the sweat lodge.
If I had to pass a message along, it’s about bringing harmony & working together. – Hinano Rosa Executive Director Mannawanis Friendship Centre
Today (May 21st), there are vendors set up at the Mannawis Friendship Centre for a showcase of artisan creations and other Indigenous cultural displays. There will also be talks and presentations on the history of Indigenous people; as well as discussions on Residential Schools and the 1994 Recommendations. “Beginning of the week is to teach, all people, some of the history of Indigenous people in Canada and then the second half of the week is to celebrate the resiliency; despite a lot of the traumatic things that have happened.”
Tonight the Friendship Walk will take place, at 6:00 pm, from the TD Bank to Racette School,”we walk in solidarity, as people. To show we are going to work this out, we are going to address the issues that need to be addressed; whatever they may be, to make our community better for everyone.” Rosa says the walk will be followed by a BBQ and traditional hand games. Thursday is also a great day to come, Rosa says there will be performances on main street. Also the Sacred Fire, which lights the pipe during the pipe ceremony, stays lit for four days and Thursday is the forth day. The fire honours all of humanities races and the attributes and contributions each race has, “and the harmony each race brings.”
The week may be in celebration of Indigenous people, but it is designed to honour all people, says Rosa, “all ages for all people.” The Mannawanis Friendship Centre would love this event to continue to grow and become a tradition in St. Paul.
It’s a partnership between many organizations in [St. Paul] and the [neighbouring] Reserves to try to work together. – Hinano Rosa Executive Director Mannawanis Friendship Centre