Fundraising event aims to link community, First Nations

May 6, 2015   ·   0 Comments

As the Orangeville-area community has begun to focus on more cultural aspects within the area, a local group has emerged geared towards bringing together local First Nations people, and connecting them with the community through events, education and awareness.

This Saturday, the Dufferin County Cultural Resource Circle (DCCRC) will be holding a fundraising event to help them achieve this goal. Called the White Buffalo New to You sale, the event will be much like a garage sale, with a number of items, as well as aboriginal works, a silent auction, entertainment and more.

“There were aboriginal people who lived here before Orangeville was ever established,” explained Debbie Sipkema, DCCRC Chair. “Most people don’t realize how deep our roots are to the Six Nations peoples, and how many residents we have here from an aboriginal background. There is a need for a connection here, and that’s what we are working towards.”

The sale is just one of many events leading up to the DCCRC’s big event of the year, a Pow Wow called ‘Honouring Youth’, to be held at Island Lake June 19-21. The Pow Wow, which is a traditional ceremony, is usually held in celebration of something. This specific one would have been held by natives as a celebration of summer, and a celebration of life.

“Honouring Youth has some magnificent opportunities for people who attend,” said Ms. Sipkema. “We will have elders there to teach, craft vendors, and different aboriginal style foods.”

The DCCRC was founded last February by Ms. Sipkema and her husband, whose heritage is from Pennsylvania, through a tribe known there as Delaware, but known here as Mohawk. Since starting this journey, Ms. Sipkema has also discovered that she has roots in the Blackfoot tribes from Alberta and Saskatchewan.

“I’ve always been the kind of person who likes to try to be supportive of people who need a voice,” explained Ms. Sipkema. “If there is a need for something, I try to put it together. Through my marriage, I learned more about the drastic need for education and re-establishment of the native cultures, and we just poured ourselves into this.”

She added that over the years, particularly through the government, there has been such a stigma attached to native and aboriginal cultures, and part of the goal of the DCCRC is to break through that and help people find their roots, and connect with Canadian history.

“We follow what the natives call the Medicine Wheel,” she explained. “It’s the idea that all cultures need to work together, and that through our shared experiences and cultures we become stronger. We’re not here to exclude anyone or alienate anyone, we’re here to build bridges between the past and the present, and all our existing cultures.”

According to Ms. Sipkema, part of the importance of educating and involving the community in the history of local natives is that it is a missing part of Canada’s, and more specifically, Dufferin County’s history.

“It’s a part of our history that is missing like a gaping hole,” she said. “It’s a missing piece of Dufferin County’s story. This is the piece of history that will help fill in the blanks, help us know who the people who were here first were and what their role was, and it will help to defeat the negative ideas.”

Each of the fundraisers, including the Honouring Youth Pow Wow, are part of a larger goal to develop a Friendship Centre, which is a model that allows people of all heritages to share their cultures, and connect with one-another. Although the idea comes from a native background, it is something that is used to create stronger knowledge and relationships through a variety of cultures, as well as works as an opportunity to help local natives connect with their culture and discover who they are.

“There were nearly 10 million people already living here when Canada was ‘discovered’, yet we know next to nothing about who they are,” said Ms. Sipkema. “It’s time that we start understanding each other, and start eliminating the distrust that comes from that lack of understanding. We need to learn about that heritage, what has happened to those peoples, and how to reclaim that culture so we can be a stronger community, and a stronger country.”

On Saturday, the White Buffalo New to You Sale will provide demonstrations and performances to help introduce members of the community to just some of the cultural aspects of the different First Nation people from the area. The event will be held at the Dufferin Garden Centre from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. For more information, contact Debbie at 519-216-8174 or visit the website at www.

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