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'People's spirits connect': Hundreds of First Nations survivors take part in new healing gathering


Hundreds of First Nation survivors came together on Monday intending to heal past trauma.

The Southern Chiefs' Organization (SCO) hosted its first annual healing gathering at the RBC Convention Centre called "Mino-si-toon Wichozani" which means "Putting things right" and "Healing."

The free two-day event included various panels and discussions on topics like reclaiming traditional practices and navigating government systems. Participants could also attend workshops like medicine doll making or beading.

Martina Fisher was one of many speakers at the event. She's a day school survivor and now the SCO's residential school liaison.

"We also learned to hate ourselves," said Fisher when asked about what the school was like. "That we were nothing and we were never going to amount to anything.

"For so many years, we felt we were alone. For so many years, I felt I was the only one that experienced what I experienced."

Gordon Bluesky, a Sixties Scoop survivor and Chief of Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, said the gathering also creates community and provides great healing power.

"They understand and it's something we can kind of sit down and really connect. There are things about these types of gatherings where people's spirits connect, and we start to feel together," he said.

More than 500 people from 79 First Nations came to the gathering, some as far away as Nova Scotia.

SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels said the event was at max capacity, showing the high demand for healing resources.

"I think it is really important that we have that and also to acknowledge our kinship and the diversity in knowledge and experience, and having that all come together in one conference is really great for all of us," Daniels said.

Attendees at the healing gathering came from a wide range of backgrounds, experiencing trauma from residential schools, day schools, the Sixties Scoop, the child welfare system, and for all those impacted by the issue of murdered and missing Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people.

"We want to raise our children and our grandchildren in an upbringing that they don't have to heal from. That's the goal we have here as people," said Bluesky. Top Stories

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