WACA looking to grow in new home
It took years, but the Wakamow Aboriginal Community Association (WACA) has found a home.
They are hoping that their new space at 461 Athabasca St E. can be a place where the Association can grow and flourish.
“We’ve been looking for a couple of years. We’ve been running out of a storage facility and... we’ve been running everything on the fly using our cell phones,” said WACA chair Lori Deets. “We don’t have everything set up here completely with our computers, but it’s a beginning and we’re just going to roll with it.”
WACA has been running successfully for just over 10 years and have facilitated the annual round dance and powwow every year.
Deets is hoping WACA will grow into their new space. As they do so, donations in all forms are greatly needed and graciously accepted.
“We still have a lot of needs in terms of funding and things we need in our office,” Deets said. “We always need volunteers.”
The WACA will have office space on the main floor adjacent to the Wandering Market with additional space on the second floor of the building. The Wandering Market sells organic farm-fresh produce and meats.
“We want to especially thank the Wandering Market. We’ve just started this new partnership and it’s working absolutely wonderfully. We’re really thankful for them giving us space. We’ve been looking for space for quite some time,” Deets said.
Deets wants to see them grow to a fulltime centre with a couple of offices. They want to make use of the whole space and want to invite the community out for initiatives going forward. The Wandering Market is happy to have space to share with WACA and feel they can help each other grow.
“The Wandering Market is honored to welcome WACA into the building with open arms. We are excited to see how we can collaborate as we share values of tradition, healing, culture, community and family,” said Nadine Lee from the Wandering Market. WACA is dedicated to building community partnerships and they’re excited to partner with the Wandering Market. “I do see us working together. They have all sorts of wild meat on hand; do you know how hard that is to find?” Deets asks. “We want to help each other with our community suppers, teaching our families how to cook. Nadine does different cooking and canning with a lot of different things and our people need to learn how to do that stuff too.” Even as WACA moved into their new space and set up for their grand opening, people from the community were asking about the centre and saying hello.
“Our people are looking for services. They’re looking for places to go,” Deets said. “We want to run a full-time centre -- almost like a friendship centre -where people can come to get help with their resumés or even just to come for a cup of coffee and a bowl of soup.” Monday’s grand opening drew a large crowd filling the upstairs space. Elder Archie Weenie spoke and blessed the space. He also led in the singing of two songs before a smudging ceremony was held.
Weenie addressed the children who were present, explaining the history and significance of some aspects of the singing or the smudging.
“We’re going to start our family nights on Monday. We’re going to have suppers (upstairs),” Deets said. “Elder Archie is going to come do some teaching with us. Eventually that’s going to grow into something bigger, but we’re going to start that every Monday at 5 p.m. here.”
WACA is committed to healing and reconciliation. They want to help the community work towards the goals in the 94 Calls to Action set out in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report. This is a community project that will unite WACA with various agencies within Moose Jaw, working towards common goals.
“We’re in the midst of trying to gather funding for all of our board members, and anyone else who is interested in training, doing crisis trauma residential school training, the effects of the residential schools training, cultural sensitivity for other organizations. There is a lot of healing that needs to be done and we want to help our community to do that,” Deets said.
WACA was selling orange shirts for Orange Shirt Day, the nationwide effort to recognize the wrongs of the residential school system and honour survivors that is held annually on Sept. 30.