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Tag: Peter Strikes With A Gun

Every Child Matters billboard unveiled by Piikani Child and Family Services

To coincide with this year’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Piikani Child and Family Services unveiled a new billboard proclaiming a powerful message: EVERY CHILD MATTERS.

Located near the Piikani Travel Centre along Highway 3, the billboard was officially revealed during a touching event last Friday.

The new sign is dedicated to all Piikani Nation members who were impacted by residential schools, and reaffirms the message to every child in the community that they matter.

“When the 94 Calls to Action came out, it was really evident that Piikani needed to have some sort of acknowledgement, a way to let everyone know that we are part of Blackfoot territory and we were affected by residential schools,” says Mary Plain Eagle, child intervention manager with PCFS.

Mary is a third-generation survivor of residential schools, as she, along with her parents and grandparents, experienced the hardships many Indigenous people know all too well.

The unfortunate reality is that Mary is not an outlier. Many members of the Piikani Nation are multi-generational survivors of institutions where children were stripped of their freedoms, their cultures and their identities.

Many who endured residential school life were present for the unveiling, which featured heartfelt speeches from elders Peter Strikes With A Gun and Herman Many Guns, Piikani Nation Chief Troy Knowlton and the executive director of PCFS, Kelly Provost.

 

Beauty products on ad for Providence Salon & Spa in Pincher Creek

 

They spoke to the horrors of residential schools, of colonization, but also of the need to heal and rise above these hardships.

“This sign not only symbolizes our healing process, but it also signifies our ability to move forward with our loyalty to our way of life,” Mary says.

According to her, this initiative was first proposed to former Piikani chief Stan Grier and council, all of whom were on board with the idea.

Earlier this year, Grier was replaced by Chief Knowlton, and so the initiative was brought forth once more to the new chief and council, who were absolutely for it, as well.

“I just feel like it’s been a long time coming,” Mary says.

“Thirty years ago, you would never have heard this sort of acknowledgement for children that were in residential school, and now as time goes on, we’re starting to hear more about it and are acknowledging what happened.”

Following the event, spectators gathered at a teepee set up outside the Piikani Travel Centre, where folks received complimentary merchandise and a free lunch.

On behalf of the PCFS, Mary extends gratitude to the North Stone drum group, Wade Plain Eagle and crew for the sign structure, Little Miss Piikani Alyson Red Young Man, the PCFS staff and everyone else who made this possible.

 

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Acorn earrings by Holly Yashi on ad for Blackburn Jewellers in Pincher Creek
Text: Communities coming together in a spirit of reconciliation and hope because every child matters. Orange t-shirt marking Orange Shirt Day.

Local Truth and Reconciliation commemorations

In Canada, Sept. 30 is recognized as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This is a day honouring Indigenous children who experienced the horrors of residential schools, and the families affected.

Communities and organizations host activities across the country to commemorate this painful history and spread awareness of the lasting impacts still endured by survivors and their families to this day.

Throughout the southwestern Alberta region, many groups are hosting events over the next few days in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Piikani Child and Family Services

For starters, Piikani Child and Family Services is hosting a Day of Truth and Reconciliation event at Piikani Travel Centre on Friday, Sept. 29, from 10 a.m. until noon. 

The group will unveil a new billboard sign for Piikani Child and Family Services, while also honouring Every Child Matters and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The event will feature a blessing, speakers, elders and a free lunch. Everyone is welcome.

 

Two stockings, one red, one green, filled with candy on ad for Crowsnest Candy

 

Peigan Ponokamiitatopii

A few hours later, Peigan Ponokamiitatopii, an equine-assisted learning organization, is hosting a Truth and Reconciliation youth event from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Fort Macleod ag building. 

Youth are invited to sign up for an afternoon of learning all about Blackfoot culture, language, games, food and more.

“My goal with this event is to invite any youth to come and participate, especially non-native youth, to see what we’re all about,” says Julia Lowe, owner of Peigan Ponokamiitatopii.

“The whole idea is to get people together to learn about the Blackfoot ways.”

To sign up for this free event, call or text Julia at 403-339-4048.

 

Meals on Wheels logo on ad announcing that the service is coming soon to Pincher Creek and volunteers are needed

 

Smudging and blessing with Peter Strikes With A Gun

Later the same evening, Pincher Creek United Church will host a smudge and blessing with elder Peter Strikes with a Gun, beginning at 5 p.m. in its parking lot. 

Smudging is a cultural ceremony practised by many Indigenous peoples in Canada, typically involving prayer and the burning of sacred medicines. 

This, like many other Indigenous traditions, was repressed and frowned upon within residential schools, so it is important to embrace this long-standing practice in recognition of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. 

Swing by the church to learn from the words of this Piikani elder, and stick around afterwards for fry bread, refreshments and more.

Calling My Spirit Back

Community members are also welcome to join the English family from Oct. 2 to 4 for their sixth annual Calling My Spirit Back healing walk for justice and awareness for the lives in Treaty 7 and globally.

The walk will begin with a pipe ceremony at the English estate in Brocket at 4 a.m. on Oct. 2, before leaving for a nearly 200-kilometre walk to Calgary. The walk concludes at Olympic Plaza, where the group will join the 20th Sisters in Spirit Vigil.

For details, contact Natawowowkii (Stephanie) English at English398@gmail.com.

 

Santa with barbecue tools on ad for Chief Mountain Gas Co-op in Pincher Creek

 

Kairos Blanket Exercise

Lastly, Pincher Creek United Church is hosting a Kairos Blanket Exercise with Rev. Tony Snow, a United Church minister and member of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, on Oct. 2 at 11 a.m.

The Blanket Exercise was developed by elders and keepers of knowledge to help illustrate the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canadian history. Everyone is welcome to learn about Indigenous experiences of colonization.

Registration is requested for the exercise. To register, email pcucoffice@gmail.com or call 403-627-3734.

Take time to reflect

These are just a few of the local events, so be sure to keep an eye out for additional activities geared toward the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Every Child Matters movement. 

If you can’t make it to any of the events, be sure to take a moment on Sept. 30 to learn more about the history of residential schools and reflect upon it. This online link provides information: bit.ly/3EVz12G.

 

 

Related story: Dave Friesen’s relentless pursuit of justice at Lower Post IRS