The field outside Edmonton’s Parkdale School has been transformed into an indigenous cultural camp this weekend.
Eleven teepees have been constructed, along with a sweat lodge, to help immerse anyone wanting to learn about traditional healing methods, dance, song and even parenting.
“It’s important because we have the second-largest urban indigenous population in Canada,” Amber Dion explained. “They don’t always have access to culture, to ceremony, to teachings.”
Dion helped organize the event and is an associate professor of Social Work at MacEwan University.
“This is a place where they can come to get answers or to find out what they can do every single day to ensure that their children are rooted in who they are.”
Community elders, or knowledge keepers, were inside each one of the teepees, hosting traditional ceremonies and sharing traditional teachings about a variety of subjects, including trauma healing, practice of ceremony, and medicine.
It the first time this type of event was held in Edmonton.
“It’s long overdue,” Dion said. “I was very fortunate. I was able to experience these types of ceremonies from the time I was little.
“Not a lot of my peers have, so we have to go outside of Edmonton a lot of the time to get these types of resources and get the knowledge.”
The culture camp opened Thursday to Bent Arrow staff and families. On Friday, Edmonton region Children’s Services staff and social workers were invited to participate.
Families raising indigenous children, including all caregivers, were invited to take part on Saturday.
“You have 11 teepees in the middle of the city — it’s a pretty strong statement that we’re here,” Dion added.
The event is open to the public on Sunday.