Blogpost: Elders Summit Creates Space for Community to Happen

Feb. 6 gathering intended to help lead youth and community to increased sense of self awareness, cultural identity, and healing

By: Michelle Strutzenberger

CUIA-Round-Dance-EditPeople have experienced the healing touch of conversations that allow you to be heard and to listen to one another’s stories and wisdom. Put those in the context of your particular culture, and these conversations can have an added depth of meaning.

A Feb. 6 gathering, the Fourth Annual Calgary Urban Aboriginal Initiative Elders Summit, offers a haven for such conversations to take place.

“We want to provide space for our community to have conversations and connect with the youth and the youth to connect with themselves,” organizer Jennifer Fournier says.

The hope and anticipation is that through connection and conversation, people, especially youth, will be able to take steps towards healing, deepened self-awareness and a strengthened sense of cultural identity.

“Sometimes when you’re moving from reserve or a different province and you’re aboriginal, you can get lost in the fray of the big city,” Jennifer says.

“So we’re really hoping that with the summit this year we can connect youth with other youth, with community members, with the elders in our community, so that they can see if they need healing or gain an increased sense of self-awareness, or cultural identity — which is a huge thing and which the elders can also provide.

“That’s why it’s called a summit — it’s about bringing everybody together and just having everyone in the same room, so that those conversations can take place.”

Thirty elders, 65 youth and more than 100 community members are already registered to attend the summit, which includes a selection of keynote presentations and the opportunity to join one of four traditional teaching circles.

The day is hosted by the Calgary Urban Aboriginal Initiative (CUAI) Services Domain in collaboration with the Calgary United Way and the CUAI Youth committee.

CUAI is energized by a mission “to provide a home for ongoing discussion, co-ordination, and informed action in support of Calgary urban aboriginal issues and initiatives.”

“This summit also gives us the opportunity to discuss any barriers or gaps in services that youth are experiencing,” Jennifer says.

To learn more about the Elders Summit, click here.

To learn more about CUAI, click here.

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New Scoop is a new Calgary news co-op, using generative journalism to explore and share stories of our thriving city. The pilot phase has received support from Cities for People.

This article was originally written for the New Scoop Calgary news co-op on 3 February 2015. We received permission to re-post.


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Michelle Strutzenberger has more than 10 years of experience in Generative Journalism with Axiom News. Her areas of interest include deep community, social-mission business, education that strengthens a sense of hope and possibility, and journalism that helps society create its preferred future.


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