New book outlines Indigenous protocols
- Andréa Ledding | July 30, 2017
The City of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre and the Office of the Treaty Commissioner have worked together to publish a booklet entitled “ayisinowak: A Communications Guide” - ayisinowak meaning, “the people.” It is a book on basic protocols when working with Indigenous peoples.
“I don’t think there’s something like this in other parts of the country, it’s true,” noted Mayor Charlie Clark, who recently shared advance copies at a national mayor’s gathering to a lot of excitement - and mayor envy. “It’s thanks to the work of everybody here.”
Lee Thomas from Pelican Lake First Nation was a student intern who helped develop the publication, thanks to an internship developed between the Saskatoon Tribal Council and the City of Saskatoon. He credited the many organizations along with many workers at the City of Saskatoon in developing the final product, which is just under 50 pages.
The booklet provides background on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; a basic introduction on Indigenous peoples, urban reserves and holdings, and Treaty Land Entitlement holdings; and then moves into meetings and protocol, which includes etiquette, cultural information, information on Elders and tobacco, as well as a few explanations about things like pipe ceremonies, smudging, sweat lodges, eagle feathers, and some cultural differences.
Because the Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre was involved, they were very careful not to write down anything about protocols which shouldn’t be published, but enough of an outline that non-Indigenous peoples not familiar with any of the basics might feel comfortable enough to appropriately approach knowledge-keepers and find out more about what they need to know in a good way.
“The guide will be a valuable asset for organizations and City Administration as the community journeys in the spirit of Reconciliation,” writes Harry LaFond, Executive Director of the Office of the Treaty Commissioner in the Foreword to the booklet. He describes the effort as a tool by which to make good choices towards our neighbours. LaFond was present at the launch along with Wanda Wilson, president of the Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre. The staff and cultural advisors of the SICC assisted in the Guide, contributing to terminology, review of Indigenous concepts, and design support to ensure everything was valid and insightful.
Both LaFond and Wilson emphasized the leading role the City of Saskatoon has been taking in supporting and enhancing relationships with First Nations peoples in a wide range of areas, including the urban reserves — locations within city boundaries where Saskatchewan First Nations establish urban land bases from which to operate.
The publication was launched at the English River buildings in Grasswood.