NIPAWIN — Youth from Wagner and Central Park Elementary experienced workshops on Indigenous culture at the Oasis Centre for National Indigenous Peoples Day.
Workshops at the event on June 21 included medicine, painting, jingle dress, bannock making and carving.
Victoria Usselman led the workshop on painting, which also served as one on storytelling.
The youth could paint rocks, animal paw prints and “old man toes”, which are the growths on trees.
“They look like mushrooms sort of things and got a flat area and you can paint scenes on there,” Usselman said.
She gave a Cree story along with it.
“There was an old, old man and his time has come. He was ready to pass and he was so saddened to leave the earth so the Creator said, ‘I will put your spirit in all the birch trees and you will live on forever in the earth’. He liked that idea. Every once in a while though, he likes to play a joke on people – he likes to stick his little toes out from the trees. This is where the old man toes come into play.”
Usselman said this was a story she heard as a child.
Henry Crane led the workshop on carving. Crane is from Shoal Lake Cree Nation.
He said carving relates to Indigenous culture, because everything had to be carved from tools to spoons.
“It’s a favorite pastime of mine. Relaxing,” Crane said. “I don’t know why, but when I’m kind of having troubles I carve and I feel better after.”
What he would like to see is people continuing the craft.
Ina Whitehead, Red Earth Cree Nation’s chief, was present.
“We are proud of who we are, Cree people. We represent Treaty 5,” Whitehead said. “There are so many so many Cree communities in Saskatchewan that are in the Treaty 5 area, Shoal Lake, Cumberland and Red Earth. We are proud of our inherent rights, our culture, our language… Celebrate this day.”
If she could get any message out to the community, she said she would say, “stay healthy, be who you are, practice your inherent rights”.
Whitehead hopes the day allowed the youth to be creative, to grow together, to heal and to understand more about their culture.
After the workshops were done, Oasis held their annual general meeting.
“We’re doing a lot better than we were in 2012,” said Joy Hanson, executive director of Oasis. “We had put the building up to sale. We were looking at possibly dissolving the organization.”
In 2012, the organizations net worth was about $240,000 with most being capital assets. They had just lost $23,000 that year.
Today, Oasis is worth about 640,000, and they never needed to sell the building. The past fiscal year, Oasis made a surplus of about $30,000.
Hanson credits the improvement to the volunteer work.
“We have low admin fees. So our low admin wages and just out law admin is the only way we can make it. We have a lot of volunteers that help here,” Hanson said.
“We do so much for the community. We have 150 to 200 that come through the doors today. We work with homelessness, we prevent children going into care or help reunite families, we have an afterschool program, we work with low income and at risk people. The majority of the people that come here are low income and Indigenous. It’s a co-operative and a charity so the members really run the organization.”