Busy week for Wanuskewin
- Julia Peterson | September 28, 2021
Leading up to the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada, Wanuskewin Heritage Park is hosting a series of events designed to celebrate community and spark conversations.
Honey Constant, community coordinator at Wanuskewin, says she approached planning these events with a key question in mind:
“In what ways can we have those conversations with little ones all the way to older people and survivors, and non-Indigenous people who are maybe just learning?”
The first event, a screening of “Indian Horse,” took place on Wednesday, September 22. The film is an adaptation of Richard Wagamese’s award-winning novel and was followed up with a panel discussion.
Constant says this helped to keep the conversation flowing after the credits rolled.
“The main thing from that was understanding that trauma from those systems is ongoing,” she said. “But it is also about how our community is working towards healing, towards educating and towards creating spaces for those people who maybe are still living in those traumatic systems.”
Over the weekend, the arts took centre stage, as Indigenous artisans shared their work at an artists’ market and Remai Modern’s Lyndon J. Linklater led a birch bark basket making workshop on September 25th.
Throughout all of these events, Constant hopes people will explore how Wanuskewin itself can be a space for care and connection.
“We want to make sure that we talk about Wanuskewin as a gathering place for over 6,000 years, and how we will be a gathering place well into the future,” she said. “And a gathering space implies sharing stories, breaking bread, being connected to each other and building that sense of … kinship with one another.”
While Saturday’s gathering was open to all ages, children are especially welcome to attend a picture book reading on Tuesday September 28.
At 1 p.m. that afternoon, Wanuskewin and the Saskatoon Public Library will be hosting a Zoom reading of “Stolen Words,” a book about a little girl who is learning Cree in school. She is excited to come home and share her new language with her mushum, but he tells her those words were stolen from him at residential school. Ultimately, with some help from her teacher, the granddaughter is able to start bringing her language back home.
“We wanted to make sure that we highlighted a theme of children being the way forward,” said Constant. “If we teach our little ones and we give them power and the opportunity to help us heal, we are going to do beautiful things.”
Finally, on September 30th, Wanuskewin will be hosting a discussion on truth and reconciliation, a talk about the history of the land and bison kinship walks.
While it will be a busy day, Constant says there will also be a moment of silence held midway through the afternoon.
“We’ll be starting with a prayer by one of our Elders, and then one of our drummers will be singing an honour song for the survivors, their families and anyone who didn’t make it home as a way of honouring their spirits and their journey,” she said. “And after that, we’re going to have a moment of silence for every residential school in Saskatchewan. I think that is going to ground us.”