Thursday, 9 July 2015

Niwiidanokiimaa ogimaakaanag

By Anna Huard, 1st year MDP student

When I first looked over my potential field placement options, I was overwhelmed by the vast list. Being born and raised in Winnipeg (Treaty 1 territory), I felt the need to stay in the Prairies for the placement. Although staying in the comfort of home was alluring, the more significant reasoning for this desire stems from my concern for the Indigenous population here in Manitoba. As someone who is part of Canada’s most vulnerable (a First Nations woman), I am passionate about improving the current state of affairs - especially within “The Most Racist City in Canada”. Winnipeg may be going through a tough time, but it is home to me. And this is where I believe we must do development differently; therefore, I wanted to work with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC).

CBC's Rosanna Deerchild (L) interviewing AMC's Marcel Balfour (R) on the 60s Scoop and the open adoption records in Manitoba

Within the first few weeks at the AMC, I was immersed in an environment where rest was not an option. I was so grateful to be taken under the wing of several, very hard-working individuals who showed me the ropes. Currently, I am working closely with the Families First Foundation Inc., which was initiated by the AMC to support the families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). On June 20th, we hosted Canada’s largest Blanket Dance (14 donated star blankets were sewn together, and carried from the UW to The Forks) and were able to raise over $5,000.

Blanket dance hosted by Families First Foundation
I have also been working with the Manitoba Indigenous Adoptees Coalition, which is a support forum for Indigenous children who became wards of the Child Welfare system from 1950 to 1990, also known as the Sixties Scoop. We are currently working on an event we are hosting towards the end of July at the UW called Connecting Our Spirits – a three-day strategic information and sharing session aimed at understanding the complexities and priorities of Indigenous Child Welfare issues in Manitoba.

 I was granted the opportunity to attend several events, such as the release of the open adoption records at the Legislature Building, several pipe ceremonies hosted by Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, and sharing circles with passionate Elders. I am pleased to see how dedicated the AMC is in incorporating Indigenous values into their work environment.

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