Jessica Seegerts shares her journey in working with newcomers in Frog Hollow neighbourhood.
It has been my honour to work with the settlement program here at Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House. When I was hired to be apart of the Heritage Project; as an intergenerational programmer, I had no idea that I would be apart of something so wonderful, helping to create a relationship between indigenous community members and the newcomer- settlement community. The truth is, Indigenous people have have been battling – stereotypes – misunderstandings– misinformation since contact.
One of the calls to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Report is … – better educate newcomers in Indigenous history – culture education- diversity within indigenous communities-including Treaty Law – residential schools as part of the citizenship test. So when I start to look at what knowledge most newcomers have about indigenous people and culture in Canada, many expressed they knew little to none. That’s why the above mentioned is so important for real healing.
When asked about what they have heard about indigenous people, the stereotypes were prevalent. “The familiarization of getting to know Jessie as an individual has broken down a lot of fear of asking questions, people’s fear of making mistakes or being judged for what they don’t know. Especially in her work with the Settlement groups, the availability of translators and translations has been key for participants.”
This was eye opening for me, an Indigenous woman of Dene – Cree First Nations.
I jumped to the opportunity to share my stories and knowledge. It has been an exciting journey of healing and learning together about the rich and diverse culture and history on Indigenous People of these lands.
From February to March 2020, we dived into a 6-week introduction to Indigenous peoples history, culture, art … …
In those six weeks we covered what it is to be a good neighbour to the indigenous community. Eliminating the fear of making any mistakes or feeling like their questions weren’t sufficient which created a beautiful learning environment for everyone.
In one of those sessions, Nisga’s educator Travis Angus, honoured us with a cultural blanket presentation for a group of Arabic-speaking youth and Chinese-speaking new immigrants in the neighbourhood.
Vivian Seegerts, a Sundancer and Reverend, facilitated a prayer tie workshop which created dialougues and healing on both sides.
As part of the Calls-to-Action for Truth and Reconciliation, we are moving in the right direction with this type of healing for our Neighbourhood.
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