Today was the first day of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission on the Indian Residential School Experience held in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. June 16 - 19, 2010.
I only had the chance to go for the morning events. There were a lot of people, media, survivors, audience and Indians from all over. The Fire was lit at five in the morning. Sadly for reasons beyond my control I was not able to make the morning ceremony. I was there at eight in the morning, not too bad I think.
A lot of big people for the opening greetings. The Minister of Indians Affairs was on hand. I saw Mathew CoonCome in the crowd. He is an ex-Grand Chief for the Assembly of First Nations (AFN). AFN is the national body that lobbies for the grassroot Indian's rights (at least I think that is their role, but who knows).
My cousin Joe Daniels came by and visited with me, my brother Don and Chief Terry Nelson of Roseau River First Nation. Joe is a Councilor in our Reserve. He is also a Traditionalist.
Chief Nelson was very nice to visit with, he paid for our breakfast at the Pancake House, 44 bucks! Lot of money for eggs and pancakes.
Ran into a lot of people in the short time I was there; Little Ernie Daniels, my cousin. He was singing for the pipe ceremony. Charlie Nelson brought out his pipe for the morning ceremony. Charlie is a big Midewiwin man. Well respected in the Traditional world. Same with Elder Tobasonakwut Kinew (Peter) and his son Wab Kinew. Wab Kinew is an exceptional fellow. Very Traditional, very humble, and well liked among the general public. He is a Hand Drum singer, and he is also an artist/rapper. He is currently employed as a reporter with the Canadian Broadcasting Company, CBC television.
The group Blue Rodeo is set to entertain at the event this evening. They took part in the morning ceremony and smoked the pipe with the people in the circle. Not everyone was in the circle, just the big wigs and some Chiefs. Our Chief was there with his Headdress on. One of the Traditional Teachers was sitting and visiting with me for a while and wondered if most Chiefs know the significance of the Headdress, the Eagle Bonnet. I just shrugged. I guess it has to be earned. I think if your are selected by the people, than you might have earned it, but what do I know.
I saw my cousin Earnest Daniels and his wife Charlotte at the ceremony. They are always at ceremonies. They follow that way of life pretty religiously (religiously, get it).
An Elder George Matthew Courchene was on hand as well. He is a Teacher of Traditions. He has become like a lot of old men, either grouchy or affable. He has chosen to be crabby. LOL :D He was sitting with Father Paradi, the priest that was in Sagkeeng First Nation Catholic Church, for a while. Father was good friends with Ron Swampy in the Reserve. Boyish (as he was known as) was a Sundance holder and he has passed away.
There are a number of tents set up for the people to take part in the event. It is hoped that people will share their experiences from the school as part of a public record. Lot of people are still hesitant to share. While some people say the TRC has no teeth. Their stories will not mean much as there is no remedy for them. Others say the compensation packages for the suffering is not sufficient.
At the end of the day, it is about sharing, but what happens next.
I like the opportunity it is providing. I guess I will get my brother Poncho to bring Dad out to the event.
The very least that can happen is that we get to visit with people. Maybe see a few big shots. Eat some food. If we're lucky have a few laughs. Laughing is always good.