Dialogue circle seeks to bring communities closer


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BREAKING down barriers between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people is the goal of a truth and reconciliation dialogue circle at St. Kateri Indigenous Parish.

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BREAKING down barriers between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people is the goal of a truth and reconciliation dialogue circle at St. Kateri Indigenous Parish.

The event, which starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 30 at 265 Flora Ave., will be an opportunity for both communities to come together to get to know each other better, said Thomas Novak, who does Indigenous and Métis outreach for the Archdiocese of Winnipeg.

“We can fear each other because we don’t sit down and talk to each other,” said Novak, who is helping to organize the circle. “We can learn a lot by listening to each other’s stories.”

The circle will include a presentation of TthaNárEltth’Er: Our Dene Hero, by Lucy Antsanen.

It is the story of a young Dene woman in the 18th century who managed to save herself from slavery, become an interpreter in York Factory, and make peace between the Dene and Cree peoples in what became Manitoba.

“Every year, on Feb. 5, the anniversary of her death, we honour TthaNárEltth’Er by wearing red, braiding hair, feasting, and singing songs of her story,” said Antsanen, who is Dene.

“She is a Dene hero who inspires strength and courage to this day,” she added, noting it’s unfortunate more Manitobans don’t know about how she not only helped make peace between the two First Nations, but made the fur trade successful.

“The history of Manitoba is tied up in the fur trade. She made it possible.”

She also hopes the circle will help people learn more about Indigenous people more generally in the province.

“Many people lump all Indigenous people together,” she said. “But we aren’t all the same. We have our own unique cultures, languages and practices.”

Following the presentation, participants will break into small groups of talking circles to discuss the story and other topics of interest.

“We need this kind of dialogue and should not be afraid of it,” Antsanen said. “We need to know more about each other. By telling our stories we can appreciate each other and work towards reconciliation.”

The dialogue circle is sponsored by St. Kateri Indigenous Parish and St. Ignatius Parish as part of their ongoing commitment to truth and reconciliation. All are welcome, but registration is required ( or 204-287-8583).

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John Longhurst

John Longhurst
Faith reporter

John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.

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