The KEY resource centre has finished a series of workshops focused on bringing awareness of cultural differences to Fort St. James.
Since January the non-profit group, in partnership with the College of New Caledonia, held six assertiveness and anti-discrimination workshops for under-resourced urban aboriginals and six cultural competency workshops for businesses in town.
“The whole idea of the cultural competency workshops is to bring awareness of residential schools and the Indian Act and how that affected aboriginal people,” Joyce Schram, good neighbour program coordinator said. “The anti-discrimination workshop concentrated on stereotypes and how to erase them with the idea being we live together and work together.”
Elsa Berland, 27, of Nak’azdli and anti-discrimination workshop facilitator, said they looked at some basic things people may not think about every day such as self esteem, emotional intelligence and process of advocating when dealing with the government, ministry or criminal justice system.
“We also looked at tools to address discrimination in the right way,” she said. “The workshop was only a day long so we didn’t want to go too in depth into the heavy parts of discrimination but part of the goal was to discuss how we participate in discrimination and how it looks to people in Nak’azdli and Fort St. James.”
She gave examples of how society labels people and how it would be more successful to call them ‘dealing with addiction’ instead of labelling them by one of their behaviours.
“The workshop helped give people tools to look at things differently [to address] things in a more positive way,” Berland said.
Sarah John, 31, from Vanderhoof Saik’uz facilitated the cultural competency workshop and said the focus was on perspective, integrating other world views into the discussion.
“We talked about aboriginal life, past and present,” she said. “People liked the historical knowledge and the openness of being able to ask questions, that it was less of a facilitation more of a conversation with each other.”
Another part of the workshops was teaching people how to say hello and goodbye in Carrier.
“We never say goodbye, we say see you later,” Schram said. Nanyoost’enla means see you later in Carrier.
Hello is Hadih, I am well is Soo’ust’oh, how are you is Daint’oh and are you well is Soo’int’oh.
Friendship Week combines cultures
The week of March 23 was dubbed Friendship Week as a reminder of everything learned over the past month from the series of KEY workshops and to bring people of Fort St. James together in the sharing of their different cultures, Joyce Schram said, program coordinator.
For Friendship Week the KEY handed out hundreds of yellow Friendship Week bracelets and displayed a bright yellow banner at the four corners crossing. Elders were present at the KEY Thursday and Friday to talk about their background and free bannock was served during the meet-and-greet. Groups of people came to the town centre to enjoy the free dessert, live music and social atmosphere.