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Registration for Wîcihitowin Indigenous Engagement Conference at all time high

For immediate release: September 27, 2021 - 9:47am
ST21-2521

Over 2,500 participants have registered for the virtual 2021 Wîcihitowin Indigenous Engagement Conference on October 5-7. The event will provide registrants with important teachings to assist them on their paths to reconciliation.

“With registration closing tonight at 11:59 p.m., we can announce that this year will be our largest group of attendees to date,” says Brad Bird, Co-Chair of the Wîcihitowin Organizing Committee and Director of Reconciliation, Saskatoon Public Library. “We are looking forward to welcoming thousands of people virtually to learn from our speakers—including Residential School Survivors and Knowledge Keepers—about the Seven Sacred Teachings that guide Indigenous Peoples’ ways of knowing.”

Established in 2014, the Wîcihitowin Conference was created to provide Residential School Survivors and Sixties Scoop Survivors with a platform to share their voices and teachings, to inspire respectful engagement and meaningful inclusion of Indigenous peoples within the community, and to share resources and tools to form and maintain culturally respectful organizations. “Wîcihitowin”, a Cree/Saulteaux term meaning “to help each other/to work together”, is the driving force for the now annual event.

“The Wîcihitowin conference provides an opportunity for community members to learn from survivors and for survivors to share their experiences, resilience and strength,” says Gilbert Kewistep, a Residential School Survivor and advisor to the conference organizing committee. “I want to thank everyone who chooses to virtually attend the conference, because fully committing your time and attention to learning matters. And, these conversations matter.”

“The City makes a point to contribute financial and human resource support to this conference every year,” says Melissa Cote, Director of Indigenous Initiatives for the City of Saskatoon. “The feedback we get from this event is always incredible – how it influenced individuals and organizations to change their thinking as well as their practices. Past participants feel that this conference has contributed to progress on Indigenous engagement and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.”

The theme of this year’s conference is The Seven Sacred Teachings: love, respect, courage, honesty, wisdom, humility and truth. These inherent beliefs and values guide Indigenous Peoples’ ways of knowing and are shared by generations through oral traditions of storytelling and ceremony. The conference presentations will demonstrate how the Seven Sacred Teachings can guide people through their personal journeys; help community members, organizations, governments, and businesses respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action; and ensure respectful Indigenous engagement and inclusion within communities.

2021 conference presenters include:

  • Chief Cadmus Delorme, Cowessess First Nation
  • Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society
  • Dr. Dave Courchene - Nii Gaani Aki Innini (Leading Earth Man), Elder and Knowledge Keeper, Anishinaabe Nation
  • Richard Van Camp, Storyteller and Author, Dene Nation from Fort Smith, Northwest Territories
  • Stephanie Harpe, Residential School Survivor, International Advocate for Murdered, Missing and Exploited Indigenous Peoples, Singer/Songwriter
  • Representatives from the Saskatoon Survivors Circle

“It’s important that we acknowledge there are so many different ways of learning,” says Bird. “This conference provides many Indigenous and non-Indigenous people with a connection to traditional teachings—I promise that the content will be eye-opening and thought-provoking whether you’re attending for the first time or the seventh.”

Registration is available free of charge at wicihitowin.ca, closing on September 27 at 11:59 p.m. (CST). For conference updates, you can also follow Wîcihitowin YXE on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

The Wîcihitowin Indigenous Engagement Conference is made possible through contributions from the City of Saskatoon, Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, Saskatchewan Health Authority, Saskatoon Public Library, United Way & Area, Saskatoon Community Foundation, and Nutrien (premier investor).