WACA look­ing to grow in new home

Moose Jaw Express.com - - News -

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.

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