Indige­nous lead­ers to meet in Ed­mon­ton

Metro Canada (Calgary) - - YOUR ESSENTIAL DAILY NEWS - Omar mosleh Metro | 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.

Kevin TuonG/foR MeTRo

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