Friday, 24 November 2017 04:57

Presentation helps to create awareness regarding treaties

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Joseph Naytowhow and Madonna Hamel perform a welcome song at the start of the Treaty 4 workshop, Nov. 17. Joseph Naytowhow and Madonna Hamel perform a welcome song at the start of the Treaty 4 workshop, Nov. 17. Matthew Liebenberg

A presentation at the Lyric Theatre in Swift Current created awareness about the meaning of treaties and highlighted the need for more education about people's duties and responsibilities as treaty people.


The workshop took place on Nov. 17 to coincide with the presentation of the historical musical drama The Cypress Hills would never be the same at the theatre.
According to playwright and director Stew Tasche the idea for a workshop about Treaty 4 was the result of discussions with Cree elder Noel Starblanket.
“We were brainstorming about what we might do in order to facilitate discussion in a community that has very few indigenous people,” Tasche recalled.
Starblanket suggested they should get in touch with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, which agreed to provide funding for a workshop presenter. In addition to the workshop at the Lyric Theatre, which was attended by about 40 people, there were two presentations at the local high school on Nov. 14.
Tasche felt the discussions made a difference and he is hoping this kind of discussion will continue in the community, because there are many things that people still do not understand about the treaties and First Nations culture.
“All those basic things that we really don’t have much of an idea about and yet we should, and we’re just kind of lost on those,” he said. “So I think we have to keep this dialogue going.”
He believes the historical musical drama about events in the Cypress Hills during the 1870s, including the Cypress Hills Massacre, will help to create a better understanding of history. This play was back on stage at the Lyric Theatre for the third time from Nov. 14 to 18, and each time the production sold out.
“So 2,200 people know more about what happened in the Cypress Hills than before and that’s so important,” he said. “I don’t care which side you’re on or if you’re on a side. I just want you to know what the facts were at that particular time. So yes, it has helped. It can’t do anything but help to create a dialogue and bring people from one side or the other over to a point of understanding the other side, and that’s all I wanted to do.”
The Living Sky Casino partnered with the Lyric Theatre to present this third production of the historical musical drama, and the casino provided bannock and tea for the workshop. Living Sky Casino General Manager Trevor Marion felt it was important for the casino to be part of the workshop.
“It’s kind of unique with this kind of dialogue and this kind of discussion happening in Swift Current and I actually loved it,” he said.
He also viewed the presentation of the historical musical drama as an opportunity for people to learn more about the past.
“It’s another cultural piece, it’s a learning piece, and when we attend discussions like this or we attend plays, you get to know a little bit more about what occurred in the past here,” he said.
The Treaty 4 workshop presenter was Joseph Naytowhow, an award-winning interdisciplinary artist and traditional knowledge keeper. He felt the lack of knowledge about the treaties and the past is a result of what happened to First Nations in the country.
“When you’re hidden in a bush or out there on the land somewhere, nobody can see you,” he said. “That’s basically what happened in this country. People are on reserves and the only people that knew about us were the RCMP and Indian Northern Affairs Canada and the government of Canada.”
Workshop participants referred to people's ongoing ignorance about First Nations and the lack of education to inform people about the past. Naytowhow believes the media has played a significant role to create stereotypes about indigenous people and that there is an ongoing need for education.
“It still needs to happen over and over again because it’s still coming from a place of ignorance and lack of knowing, and not just through education but community,” he said. “It has to happen in the community.”

Read 395 times Last modified on Friday, 24 November 2017 08:51
Matthew Liebenberg

Reporter/Photographer

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