Hundreds of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples from across the continent will gather this coming weekend at Trent University to honour the many ways in which water carries the power to heal, unite, and empower as part of the 41st annual Elders and Traditional Peoples Gathering hosted by Trent University and the First Peoples House of Learning.
"For over four decades, this gathering has brought together students, knowledge keepers and Elders from across Canada to share and learn from one another. It has reconnected many Indigenous students with their cultural identities and has had a significant impact on ensuring that traditional knowledge is passed down to future generations," says Dawn Lavell Harvard, director of the First Peoples House of Learning. "Water is our lifeline, we need to celebrate water and its importance to all life on earth including its cultural and spiritual significance to Indigenous peoples.
This year’s theme for the gathering, “Water the First Medicine: Protecting Life for Future Generations” was selected by Trent students. The gathering offers an opportunity to share in Indigenous knowledge through workshops, presentations, and performances.
“I think the theme for the Elders and Traditional Peoples Gathering is an important and appropriate topic for this year,“ explains Dawn Martin, a fourth-year studying Indigenous Studies and History and one of the students involved in choosing this year’s theme. “As an Indigenous woman, I relate to this topic very much. Growing up in my culture, I was taught at a young age about the relationships we have with the natural environment and to be stewards of the land. I think this gathering can bring voice to just how related humans are to water.”
Highlights of the event that offer engaging photo opportunities are listed below:
Chanie’s Life – His Courage, Our Challenge
Friday, March 3 and Saturday, March 4, 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
This voiced movement story brings together an ensemble of Indigenous Performance Studies and Cultural Studies students (with facilitation by Daystar/Rosalie Jones, Hilary Wear, and Joeann Argue) to tell the story of Chanie Wenjack’s journey from his home in Okagi to the Residential School and his attempt to return home.
Pura Fé – Keynote Address
Saturday, March 4, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
This vocal and harmony workshop led by award-winning Native singer-songwriter, musician, composer, and activist, Pura Fé, offers the unique opportunity to connect with water through the sharing of her people’s East River canoe songs.
Saturday, March 4, 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.
The sunrise ceremony is one of the oldest and most esteemed traditions in First Nation culture. Sunrise ceremonies signify the welcoming of a new day and offer the opportunity to express gratitude for life and nature.
Professor David Newhouse – What is reconciliation? What does it promise? Should we be optimistic?
Saturday, March 4, 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Reconciliation is one of the largest projects that Canada has ever embarked on. In this keynote presentation, Professor David Newhouse, chair of the Indigenous Studies department at Trent University, leads a conversation on resetting, restarting, and renewing the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and Canada as we carry reconciliation into the future.
Water Walkers – Panel Discussion
Sunday, March 5, 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
This panel discussion will welcome the Water Walkers, two Anishinawbe Grandmothers and a group of Anishinawbe women and men who walk the perimeters of the Great Lakes to raise awareness about water pollution and poor water quality in First Nations Communities.
Claudette Commanda – W (Women) A (Advancing) T (The) E (Emergence) of R (Reconcilction): Anishinabe Women’s Role in Protecting the Water through Action
Sunday, March 5, 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
In this presentation, Claudette Commanda, professor at the University of Ottawa and the executive director for the First Nations Confederacy of Cultural Education Centres, explores the Anishinabe perspective on the place and power of Anishinabe women in creation, ceremony, and community. By highlighting the spiritual, cultural, and physical connections between water and human beings, this presentation will showcase the importance of reconciling the relationship between human beings and water through an understanding of our role and responsibility to creation.
About the Elders Gathering
The annual Elders and Traditional Peoples Gathering takes place at Trent University every winter and aims to bring together a wide audience, connecting communities from all over North America. The Elders Gathering was envisioned in the 1970s as an opportunity for elders and traditional teachers from coast to coast to share their wisdom and stories with youth, students and community members. Participants share Indigenous knowledge’s through a series of experiential workshops, presentations and lectures.
About Trent University
One of Canada's top universities, Trent University was founded on the ideal of interactive learning that's personal, purposeful and transformative. Consistently recognized nationally for leadership in teaching, research and student satisfaction, Trent attracts excellent students from across the country and around the world. Here, undergraduate and graduate students connect and collaborate with faculty, staff and their peers through diverse communities that span residential colleges, classrooms, disciplines, hands-on research, co-curricular and community-based activities. Across all disciplines, Trent brings critical, integrative thinking to life every day. Today, Trent's unique approach to personal development through supportive, collaborative community engagement is in more demand than ever. Students lead the way by co-creating experiences rooted in dialogue, diverse perspectives and collaboration. In a learning environment that builds life-long passion for inclusion, leadership and social change, Trent's students, alumni, faculty and staff are engaged global citizens who are catalysts in developing sustainable solutions to complex issues. Trent's Peterborough campus boasts award-winning architecture in a breathtaking natural setting on the banks of the Otonabee River, just 90 minutes from downtown Toronto, while Trent University Durham – Greater Toronto Area, delivers a distinct mix of programming in the east GTA.
For more information contact: Kate Weersink, media relations & strategic communications officer, Trent University, 705-748-1011 x6180 or firstname.lastname@example.org