Home / Overview Of Current News / Social Issues / Racism / Reunification event brings Dene from around the globe to Calgary

Reunification event brings Dene from around the globe to Calgary

Hundreds of Dene and Indeh from around the world are gathering in Calgary this week for a historic reunification.

Xakiji (Chief) Lee Crowchild of the Tsuut’ina Nation is hosting a Dene reunification event this week. (Rebecca Kelly/CBC)

Hundreds of Dene and Indeh from around the world are gathering in Calgary this week for a historic reunification.

Dene make up the largest linguistic and indigenous cultural group in North America, with more than 750,000 people with Dene heritage. Many Dene live in northern Canada, but some live as far away as the southwestern United States, Mexico and Siberia.

“This reunification is about recognizing those stories, finding commonalities and reuniting all the Dene that exist,” said Lee Crowchild, Xakiji or Chief of Tsuut’ina First Nation, which is hosting the three-day event.

“I think the significance is to recognize who our relatives are … this is a chance to identify and say these are your cousins, these are your relatives from long ago.”

“It’s overwhelming,” said Bruce Starlight, one of the event’s organizers. “We’ve never had this much Dene in one area.”

Starlight said the reunification has been in the works for years.

The conference includes speakers sharing histories and separation stories in languages like Denesuline and Yavapai, a youth leadership forum, a gala dinner with a keynote speech from Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief Perry Bellegarde, and drum and dance performances.

The grand opening of the Dene reunification event in Calgary. (Lawrence Nayally/CBC)

“We’re the greatest travellers, we migrated all over North America. Because we don’t leave monuments to ourselves, it’s very hard to follow it because all there is are the rock drawings and land features that connect our common histories,” said Starlight.

Dene elders and Navajo and Apache elders share similar stories about how their people separated, according to the Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre — one describes how a giant was killed and people crossed into a new land on the giant’s back.

“There’s several stories,” said Starlight.

“A dog was killed, and then the clans and bands rose up against each other. My grandmother’s story — they got tired of the killing, and they made two long lines, and said we’re not going to see each other until end times.”

Other speakers at the event will discuss the anthropological history of those journeys, and the linguistic connections between Dene dialects.

Some Dene dialects are critically endangered, including Tsuut’ina, which has only a few dozen speakers.

According to the 2016 census, there are about 13,000 Dene speakers in Canada, with 15 per cent of speakers residing in Alberta.

An artist works on a painting at the Dene reunification event at Tsuut’ina 7 Chiefs Sportsplex on Tuesday. (Rebecca Kelly/CBC)

Matthew Vukson is a Tlicho artist from Brantford, Ont., who teaches beadwork.

He’s been learning to speak Tlicho alongside his mother, and said he was excited to learn more about Dene history at the event.

“It feels really good. There’s people that really are from all over … the history is just so old,” Vukson said.

“Just for me being here, personally, it means so much to me.… There’s a lot of stories of resilience and survival from these elders and what they’ve been through. I have a lot of admiration for them.”

Crowchild said there are a number of significant outcomes he expects to come out of the gathering, from discussions on protecting shared languages to economic alliances.

“I see this as being a stepping stone for much more conversation to happen.”

The reunification event runs Oct. 14 -16 at the Tsuut’ina 7 Chiefs Sportsplex. 

Check Also

See more of Fort Mcmurray #468 First Nation on Facebook

See more of Fort Mcmurray #468 First Nation on Facebook

Click here to view original web page at www.facebook.com Click here to view original web …

inquiry-into-missing-and-murdered-indigenous-women-issues-final-report-with-sweeping-calls-for-change

Inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women issues final report with sweeping calls for change

Politics·Live Inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women issues final report with sweeping calls for …

champagne-and-aishihik-first-nations-mourn-death-of-elder-paddy-jim

Champagne and Aishihik First Nations mourn death of elder Paddy Jim

Champagne and Aishihik First Nations lost their oldest elder, Paddy Jim, who is being remembered …

%d bloggers like this: