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Groups offer localized calls to action, community sweat lodge announced for St. Paul

ST. PAUL - A group of residents from a variety of backgrounds gathered in the back parking lot of the Mannawanis Native Friendship Centre on Sept. 30, to listen and take part in a sharing circle.

The event was a collaboration between Reconciliation St. Paul and the MNFC.

A special announcement was also made on Thursday, with work set to begin on a community sweat lodge on Monday. Those involved are asking community members who can swing a hammer to come help build the sweat lodge on Monday at 11 a.m.

"It will be available to all community members and hopefully will be a source of healing for the community," says Megan Tucker, a member of Reconciliation St. Paul who also helped facilitate Thursday's events. 

Following a lunch-time feast, the Action Alberta St. Paul, Calling Ourselves to Action and Justice report was read out loud by some of the people involved in putting the document together. The document came from a number of virtual gatherings and discussions held in May, June and July of this year. The group came together 
"to reflect on racism, hate and discrimination," reads the report. 

The process and report was built and designed by the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights. 

Just ahead of the sharing circle, Tucker spoke about how it's important to take "concrete action" and Sept. 30 is about more than just wearing orange.

Sample of some of the calls to action included in the report

A variety of areas are touched in the report, from language, to healthcare, to RCMP, and education. The following are just a sample of the calls to action:

  • “Language is powerful. With intentions of building respectful relations, we call on all to know that while the term Aboriginal was the given term written in the Canadian Constitution (Section 35) we must stop using the word Aboriginal. The Ab in aboriginal means “not” which is the opposite of the intent of the word.”

  • "Review the current newcomer information kit provided by Immigration Canada and consider providing a supplemental newcomer information toolkit for the town of St. Paul and area which provides the history of the area."

  • "We call upon the RCMP to engage communities when investigations in the area are taking place and provide space for local Indigenous community members to provide counsel and support as much as possible."

  • "We call for a community campaign to lift the spirits and educate the community on the experiences and challenges of Indigenous women.  This campaign should call out the names of missing, murdered and exploited indigenous women, girls and two spirits."

  • "We call on those working in the health system to recognize and acknowledge the intense level of racism being faced and the sheer lack of awareness of prejudice, yet the intense defensiveness and response when one tries to point out or call this in. We call for the recognition that people who are dealing with long term entrenched racism are dealing as well with some level of PTSD as a result."

  • "We call for teachers and schools to bring in knowledge keepers to help with education. It is critical to educate at a young age and to create connections with people."

"Our hopes are these calls to action can move towards implementation in St. Paul and area as well as act as a tool for education, dialogue and community engagement," reads the report. 

The report was put together with support from the Government of Canada, Anti-Racism Action Program, and also was supported by REACH Edmonton and the Alberta Hate Crimes Committee. 

During the sharing circle, it was also noted that while Sept. 30 is now National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day, the two are not the same, and should be acknowledged as individual events. 



Janice Huser

About the Author: Janice Huser

Janice Huser has been with the St. Paul Journal since 2006. She is a graduate of the SAIT print media journalism program, is originally from St. Paul and has a passion for photography.
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