Regina's Indigenous residents sharing their stories for Canada's 150th
- Katie Doke Sawatzky | July 28, 2017
The City of Regina is collecting stories from its Indigenous residents in the name of reconciliation and as part of the city’s Canada 150 celebrations this summer.
Jamin Mike, who is from Beardy’s and Okemasis’ Cree Nation, is the information and preservation assistant for the 150 Stories Oral History Project. He is responsible for collecting stories from students, youth, Elders, and any other members of Regina’s Indigenous community who have reflections of Regina’s and Canada’s history they’d like to share.
So far Mike has gathered 20 hours of interviews and footage, including video of memorable places and buildings around the city.
“The stories I’ve heard so far are amazing, every single one of them,” said Mike, who is currently a student at First Nations University of Canada in Indian Communication Arts.
“Regina is home to a very diverse Indigenous community….The interviews and the stories being heard all come from different backgrounds, different cultures, and it’s a very great learning experience for me.”
Dana Turgeon is the historical information and preservation supervisor and the project manager of 150 stories. She said the project is a commitment by the City to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action that challenge archives to undertake commemoration projects.
“Archives is a very small, tiny little unit at the city but we knew we had a role that we could play,” said Turgeon.
The project was made possible through several grants, including the Saskatchewan Council for Archives and Archivists and a matching grant from the federal government called Young Canada Works.
The final goal is to create a virtual timeline people can access on the city’s website. It will be similar to one created last year about the new stadium, which charted events dating back to the early 1900s.
Mike said one story that stood out to him was from a woman who shared about her residential school experience. He didn’t give more away because he and Dana want to spoil the launch of the timeline, which will happen this December.
Overall, Mike is impressed with the history of southwestern Saskatchewan. He said it’s unique compared to a lot of other places he’s travelled.
“It’s amazing to see like a lot of the initiatives that the people here took to shape history to what it is today,” he said.
Despite the contention surrounding Canada 150 and the traumas of colonization, Mike believes the oral history project is an act of reconciliation.
“What we’re doing with the reconciliation effort is we are offering space and resources for the Indigenous community to preserve their heritage in … in whatever way they want basically,” he said.
Mike has been contacting interviewees in the city but people are also encouraged to contact him at email@example.com. Stories can be shared through photographs, objects, artwork or dance.