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Collaborating with Lake Babine Nation identifies unique requirements for new cultural gathering centres

Since 2022, Associated has been working on the design of Cultural Gathering Centres at Tachet and Wit’at for the Lake Babine Nation in BC.

Freda Leong, Associated's National Leader, Indigenous Communities, tells us, "We are proud of the positive relationships we have built with the Nation and involving their steering committees and community members in every step of the design of two Cultural Gathering Centres. They have guided us through the design of these spaces which will support the communities. The designs are not twins, but are cousins. They are braided in intention, but include unique and special features - just like the people and the communities of Tachet and Wit'at."

In 1876, the Federal government enacted the Indian Act, which gives the government the power to manage the affairs of Indigenous Communities and Peoples. The Federal government believed that Indigenous ceremonies like the potlatch prevented the assimilation/integration of Indigenous Peoples, and subsequently instituted an amendment to the Indian Act that banned the potlatch from 1884 to 1951. The loss of ceremony was crippling to Indigenous Peoples, as these ceremonies are deeply tied to their history, language, culture, community, and values.

Freda says, "During a visit to Woyenne, as part of our work on their Capital Asset Needs Assessments, conducted under First Nations Child and Family Services for Lake Babine Nation, we conducted a survey of the local Child and Family Services team and community members. Their responses will help determine the capital asset investments required to support child and family services through a prevention lens. What we heard from community members and Elders during our survey is that there is a need to bring back ceremony, culture, and language; to reconnect to the land, community, and spirit; and to heal through reconnection."

While in Skidegate, Associated's team met with the Skidegate Haida Immersion Program (SHIP) and attended an Open House to reach out to Elders and community members to gather their input and knowledge for the Child and Family Services Capital Asset Needs Assessment. One Elder told our team that their strength and sense of self was lost through colonization. Some spoke about the shame and fear of speaking their language when they were young and the punishment for practicing their culture, and how it was forced out of their lives. Elders spoke of the their healing through language and culture, and how they are regaining their strength.

Freda says, "Through wonderful programs such as SHIP, Elders are reconnecting, gathering strength, and passing on their culture, language, and ceremony to community. Today, we see the celebration of language and culture. Language and culture are healing. Gathering is healing. The new Cultural Gathering Centres for these communities will support and advance healing."

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