The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has, since we were founded, worked to interweave Indigenous Knowledge and cultural awareness across the organization.
Now, for the first time, we have supported cultural awareness training for the broader community in Bruce County.
The events held on May 16 and 17 in Huron-Kinloss and South Bruce mirror the cultural awareness training that NWMO staff receive, and that has been offered to municipal staff, mayors, councillors and community liaison committee (CLC) members. Following the popularity of one such session in the area last year, the CLC decided offering the cultural awareness training is another way that NWMO resources can be used to build capacity and help citizens develop their skills. They identified the training as an opportunity to share information on Canada’s cultural heritage, increase awareness of cultural competency and gain an understanding of relationship-building skills to promote positive partnerships with Indigenous peoples in the municipality.
Lyndon Linklater from Thunderchild First Nation in Saskatchewan led the session, which included storytelling, humour, music, and interactive exercises. Some of the themes and topics included Indigenous world view, spiritual teachings and ceremonies, treaties, residential schools, and Truth and Reconciliation.
More than two dozen people gathered for each training session, which opened with a smudging ceremony led by Jessica Perritt, NWMO Senior Advisor for Indigenous Knowledge.
“As Canada embarks on this journey of Reconciliation, understanding the truth and history of Indigenous peoples in Canada is the first step,” Ms. Perritt said. “I commend both South Bruce and Huron-Kinloss in seeking to better understand this truth, and I hope both sessions enlightened community members.”
CLC member George Miller, a Métis man from the area, said he looks forward to sharing the experience of the training with more members of his community.
“Reconciliation to me is being able to proudly declare my Métis heritage, something my father and his generation felt unable or unwilling to do. I applaud the efforts being made by the NWMO in furthering knowledge of Indigenous communities in close proximity to South Bruce. I am heartened they have extended those efforts to include all interested community members by offering cultural awareness training to anyone who is interested,” Mr. Miller said. “For me, this is a journey of self-discovery; I have a lot of genealogical facts, but very little knowledge of the culture and especially the spiritual aspects of Indigenous culture. I think we can all grow as our knowledge increases, and the sessions supported by the NWMO can be the conduit for constructive shifts in attitudes.”