Support for Saskatoon’s 5th Annual Indigenous Engagement Conference continues to grow
Over 800 leading experts, community leaders, elders and youth are coming together in Saskatoon today for the Wîcihitowin (wee-chee-HEE’-toe-win) Indigenous Engagement Conference.
Reaching its highest attendance yet, the conference focuses on responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action and how to address Indigenous engagement and inclusion issues. The conference also aims to build allies in the community and honour Indian residential school survivors, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, sixties scoop and day schools.
This year’s conference theme - Be a good person, try to lead a good life - honours the late Walter Linklater, a well-known and respected knowledge keeper who shared many universal teachings that continue to help guide people on a path to reconciliation.
“Our late father Walter Linklater often spoke about education as a way to bring people together and build bridges of understanding,” says son Lyndon Linklater, Traditional Knowledge Keeper. “To use our traditions and ceremonies to meet the challenges and crises we will encounter in our lives. Above all, to respect each other, to be kind to one another, and to try to live a good life.”
The conference welcomes an impressive and diverse line-up of 50 keynote speakers and panelists from across Canada, including Dr. James Makokis and Anthony Johnson, better known as Team Ahkameyimok, winners of The Amazing Race Canada, Season 7.
This year, attendees will learn from core teachings, gather key takeaways, and gain practical resources to incorporate reconciliation in both their personal and professional lives.
“Moving towards reconciliation takes courage and commitment from leading organizations within our communities, and a recognized responsibility from each of us as individuals to listen and learn the truth,” says Lisa Mooney, Global Lead, Sustainability & Strategic Inclusion, Nutrien. “Nutrien is proud to support Wîcihitowin in cultivating an environment of openness, acceptance and healing through sharing the stories of Indian residential school survivors and encouraging safe conversations that plant the seeds of understanding.”
Conference topics include Indigenous health transformation, the impact of colonialism on Indigenous values, traditions, languages and customs, and restoring the rights of Indigenous women and girls to citizenship and safety.
“As a residential school survivor, to see this conference evolve to where it is today, is a testament of our Elders who prayed for us while we were at these schools and to our courageous youth who listened to those prayers and by letting others know that we were not forgotten. My healing journey continues with Wîcihitowin in my heart,” says Gilbert Kewistep, Knowledge Keeper, Indian residential school survivor and Wîcihitowin Conference Organizer.
This conference is made possible because of the financial support of community investors such as Nutrien, the Saskatoon Community Foundation, Affinity Credit Union and 15 other organizations representing businesses and organizations from across the province.
The Wîcihitowin Organizing Committee is already looking ahead to next year’s conference to be held on October 6 - 8, 2020.