Story & Photos by: Billi J. Miller
I remember writing on the Facebook page of my city a few years ago to ask what the plans were to honour National Aboriginal Day. Their response, in short, was "nothing."
Disappointed, I put my kids in the car and drove three hours away to attend the celebrations in Edmonton.
It's important to me to expose my kids to different cultures, people different from them, and travel. I want understanding, tolerance, and empathy to be something they "get" as they grow older.
I've always been moved by Indigenous events & ceremonies, but this particular experience at the event in Edmonton that year touched me, and these photos will tell you why.
There were Hutterite kids in attendance with their parents. After the dancers, some drummers played while people danced and walked in a circle near them. I remember watching as the Hutterite kids first just watched - but, then soon - they began to dance and follow the others too.
I remember thinking at that moment what a symbolic image that was about mutual respect and how beautiful it was to see everyone sharing that experience and just "being there" with each other.
I hope these images move you too.
And, so on this first "National Day for Truth and Reconciliation" in my country, I wanted to share with you the words of Chief Cadmus Delorme from Cowessess First Nation.
"There is an accidental racism and ignorance in this country when it comes to history. We don't want to live in our current state. We want to be part of the economy. We want to be part of the growth… the social lives.
Sometimes in this country, being Indigenous, it's as if you gotta prove yourself a little more. You're so used seeing maybe, someone asking for change and being Indigenous… you know, there's a story behind everyone, of the history that we inherited. So my comment to everybody listening is, from Cowessess, we're not asking for pity. We're asking for understanding. We're asking that you stand beside us, that as we are gaining our control again – as Indigenous people – in our Treaty relationship, that we have better understanding.
That our kids going to school understand the impact that residential school made, but also even pre… what great economy Indigenous people had prior to Treaty. This country would be so much more well-off, when Indigenous ideology and understanding is welcomed in, and not just brought in on certain days of the year."
- Chief Cadmus Delorme
Cowessess First Nation
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Until next time.
Billi J Miller is an author, photographer, speaker, and writer from east-central Alberta, Canada.
Previously a city-living, 9-5 government worker, Billi moved to the country to marry the man of her dreams, a 4th generation Canadian farmer. Billi noticed there were very few photographs of their rich, 100-year farming heritage. So, harnessing her entrepreneurial spirit, she created a successful business as a photographer and writer “telling stories from the heart and stories that matter.”
In 2016, she authored the first of a two-book series about the remarkable contributions of farmwives and has since been recognized on CBC, Global TV, City TV, as well as countless newspapers and magazines both in Canada and in the US.
Billi continues the dialogue with her online blog series, “The Women Among Us." When she isn’t working Billi loves to travel, read, and unwind watching true crime documentaries.