The Salvation Army’s 3rd Annual Celebration of Culture

by robin124

The Salvation Army held its third annual Celebration of Culture this August at their Pine Lake Camp in Alberta, which included a spectacular Pow Wow open to the public. In partnership with Indigenous Pathways, this special three-day event brought people of all backgrounds together who were looking to learn more about traditional Indigenous cultures, values, and traditions.

“I appreciate what’s happening here today, I thank The Salvation Army – I want to take my hat off to them for stepping up to the plate and saying we recognize, not necessarily saying we were wrong or we’re sorry but recognizing what this is. It’s an opportunity to come together and when we talk together we appreciate what we’re hearing and what we understand from each other,” said Vincent Yellow Old Woman, Tribal Councillor at Siksika Nation, and the master of ceremonies at this year’s Pow Wow.

The event’s theme was Walking Together in Truth, a statement of the willingness of The Salvation Army to be a part of the journey in reconciliation and the importance of recognizing and celebrating the First Nation culture.
“I think there’s a great spirit here during this weekend. There’s a lot of enthusiasm, there’s a real desire to learn, to educate and be educated,” said Colonel Ed Hill, Chief Secretary for The Salvation Army’s Canada & Bermuda Territory.

Throughout the weekend attendees took part in traditional Indigenous customs with workshops, worship sessions, sweat lodges, tipi building, and a Pow Wow. The Host Drum was Sorrell Rider, and the other drum group, lead by Jonathan Maracle, included youth who sang and drummed for the first time. Many dancers representing First Nations from across the region came to join in the celebration as well.

“This is hugely important. If we are going to talk about reconciliation, we have to talk about understanding one another differently than we have ever done before,” said Terry Leblanc, Executive Director of Indigenous Pathways. “Participation in this activity, The Salvation Army and Indigenous Pathways working together, makes such a big impact. We’re really proud to be here and are looking forward to year four.”

The Celebration of Culture gathering was part of The Salvation Army’s commitment to build a stronger relationship with Indigenous peoples and in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #48. The Celebration of Culture was envisioned to help facilitate understanding as we embark on the journey to reconciliation and to bring together Indigenous leaders.

“The one thing that came through was a desire for celebration. Celebrating who we were as Indigenous people, celebrating who we were as Salvationists within The Salvation Army and being able to bring those two together” said, Major Shari Russell, the Territorial Aboriginal Consultant for The Salvation Army.