Indigenous leaders to meet in Edmonton
Edmonton will welcome representatives from First Nations, Métis and Inuit groups from across the country for the first National Gathering of Elders this fall.
Ten Alberta indigenous groups are working together on the event, and have invited leaders from 623 First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities to participate in the gathering, which will provide an opportunity to discuss issues like reconciliation and climate change and learn about other indigenous cultures and histories.
The Government of Alberta announced $100,000 to support the event Wednesday.
Treaty 8 Grand Chief Rupert Meneen is one of the people behind the gathering and said it was inspired by talks with counterparts in British Columbia.
“We think it’s important that we try and preserve the knowledge of First Nations people,” Meneen said.
In addition to sharing knowledge, the elders will discuss the importance of Indigenous language and culture. The event is expected to attract 3,000 to 4,000 delegates.
“We’re going to ask (the elders) ‘What are you hoping to get out of this?’ What can we as chiefs take from this, and elders, what do you need to say? Because sometimes we don’t include our elders in our conversations and I think we definitely need to listen to them,” Meneen sad.
He noted that the event is timely, landing shortly after Canada’s 150th anniversary, and is open to the public.
“We are not going to shut the door to anybody,” Meneen said.
Alberta’s Minister of Indigenous Relations, Richard Feehan, said the event was a crucial opportunity for Canadians to recognize the importance of indigenous history, culture and language.
“There’s absolutely no denying that the wisdom, life experience and knowledge the elders bring is very important for our country to create meaningful and lasting generational change,” Feehan said.
“This opportunity really gives us a chance … to have the elders come together, share their ideas and pass on those ideas to the youth who will be there in attendance,” he added.
Chief Craig Makinaw, the Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief for Alberta, said the event would allow chiefs from across the country to build bridges and create friendships.