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PowWow singers Pretty Indian Girls, Desirae Desnomie, Candace Gadwa, Raeleena Dawson, Trisha Goodwill and Judy Starr. (image by Desirae Desnomie)

Culture is the key
April 30, 2016
by:Timothy W. Shire
In the summer of 2014 I was proud to participate in the North American Indigenous Games held in Regina. My role was to operate a service whereby photographers would collect images of the various events and I would put them onto a web site. That site is still up and running and you can see for yourself what it was about.

At the planning meeting where we arranged for the project, I was a bit puzzled by the emphasis the organisers were putting on the cultural aspects of the games. After all, I thought they were athletic competitions and it might be a nice touch to have some cultural elements in the project, but from the way they were talking, clearly they meant to be something much more. However, on the second day of the games it struck me as to just why they had chosen this component of the games. This is what really mattered.

In my post graduate studies a lot of my time was spent dealing with the psychological issues that confront young people and one thing stood out head and shoulders above all else. Trouble in life, trouble with addictions, lifestyle, violence and most importantly, have some meaning in life, all things pointed to a self-awareness of who and what you are, and where are your roots.

As Canadians struggle with the helplessness of what we can do to deal with the terrible suicide rate among all First Nations people and particularly those living in the isolated communities of the north, once again, I realised the way to improving this situation is well known and is at hand.

Last week I read a CBC story about some Saskatoon PowWow singers and dancers who call themselves “
Pretty Indian Girls”. I spent an entire afternoon listening carefully to their four completed songs written by Cree singer/dancer Judy Starr.

These women are living the experience that they describe in their songs. They are upbeat, living a positive life style and above all, having fun celebrating who and what they are. Since they are just starting out in their musical career, they do not have much money to get themselves to PowWow competitions all over North America and it will be a while before they get an album out, that might generate some income.

What an inexpensive investment sending some money to
Judy and her gang. Just a small amount of money spent on culture can go so much further than we can possibly imagine. You and I can do little to fix over crowding, alcoholism and violence on reserves, but a few dollars in culture can lift the spirits and produce miracles.