January 2021
Red Deer Dance Troupe: so much more than dance
We are learning about the troupe with Marrisa Moccasin, Wellness Facilitator and Patrick Mitsuing, Board member.

The Red Deer Aboriginal Dance Troupe is an all inclusive drum and dance group that helps to serve the needs of the Aboriginal Community, providing an atmosphere of first nation cultural learning through sharing, dancing, singing and drumming.

The troupe was started by a group of volunteers in 2004, often gathering in homes and garages to practice. As time went on, word spread, and others joined and brought their regalia and include dance. As the troupe grew and more came out to participate, organizers realized these activities were fulfilling a need in the community. And with more than 150 participants often attending their after school meetings, the Board has seen the troupe brings a strong connection to Indigenous culture, bringing people together for song and dance.

It grew so fast that Red Deer Child and Family Services took notice and has helped to fund the group. And as awareness grew, others have been reaching out to offer assistance, increasing their group of Knowledge Keepers, Elders, and workshop and craft providers.

Last year’s pandemic restrictions did not slow momentum, membership and participation steadily increased. They are adapting to the online world, growing their social media reach and hosting Facebook live videos. For instance, a mini Pow Wow at the Red Deer Museum brought close to 300,000 views!

This year, they will be increasing community practices to four every month, and are working on strategies to create workshops for specific age groups to provide the best experience possible. Practices include family activities, teachings in song, dance, and crafting.

And to give people the opportunity to participate in practices like crafting from their homes, after they register, they will receive a kit they can use to follow along with the live video, and post their finished pieces to share with others. A Knowledge Keeper or Elder attends to teach the meaning behind the craft, the deeper teachings and protocols, giving participants an alignment to culture.

Patrick is often asked if programs are available to everyone. His reply, “There are a lot of non-Indigenous people that are interested in connecting to culture. Reconciliation and battling racism are huge for us, and the more allies we have that are non-Indigenous is awesome, and we love having people from all walks of life come and enjoy the dancing and learn. There is space for everybody!”

Marrisa and Patrick are also pursuing other projects including creating an exhibit at the Red Deer Museum, and offering virtual tours, and are starting the Fire Within Mentorship Program, providing youth the opportunity to connect back to the land, and learn more about their culture with activities outside of song and dance. “We are so excited for this program to roll out! We will be taking 10 youth and focus on them for the year, pour into them, and spend time with them and local Elders.”
The troupe’s Board of Directors give their time, knowledge and experience as volunteers, and are committed to giving back to the community.

Find out more about the troupe on Facebook and Twitter.
First Nations TikTok users hope to inspire youth to learn more about their cultures
Reprinted with permission by Lenard Monkman

First Nations TikTok users are using the app to share their cultures and hopefully inspire the younger audience to want to learn more about them.

Sherry McKay, who is from Sagkeeng First Nation and lives in Winnipeg, has been on TikTok since last September and has amassed over 150,000 followers. She said her following is likely because she is adding "Indigenous sounds" to the app.

Larissa Munch, 17, said she knows Indigenous youth are seeing her TikTok videos and "I just want to inspire them."

News from First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada
The Spirit Bear Award is named in honour of Spirit Bear, who is a symbol of reconciliation and equity for kids.

Do you know a group of children and/or youth (18 and under) who has been doing work on reconciliation and the TRC Calls to Action? This award honours the work of two groups of young people who are demonstrating reconciliation in action to ensure First Nations, Métis and Inuit young people have the same opportunities as all other children.

The Bookshelf
Do you know of an Alberta author who has published a children's story that shares their heritage?

Send us a link to the book and we'll include it in another edition of Connections!

Take a look at our Children's Book library! (Click on the library shelves)
ALIGN celebrates the history, cultures, and achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada. We also reflect on the discrimination, abuse, and trauma that have, and continue to be faced by Indigenous persons in Canada. We continue to advocate for reconciliation and the equitable treatment of Canada's First Nations, Inuit and Métis persons in Canada, particularly our children and youth in care.