Connecting With Community

BON Chief Deborah Smith

BON holds meet and greet in Winnipeg and a band meeting in Brokenhead

By Don Norman

The newly elected council at Brokenhead Ojibway Nation (BON) is making a strong effort to connect with community members.

On Sunday May 27, the band hosted a “Meet and Greet” in Winnipeg at the Canad Inns Hotel on McPhillips Avenue. Attendees were treated to lunch and were able to chat with the council. The event was well attended and considered a success.

Then on Tuesday, May 29, a Band Meeting, open to the public was held at the Band Hall. It was a full house. Chairs were set up in a circle that had to be widened twice to accommodate the growing crowd. There were upwards of 60 people in attendance.
Chief Deborah Smith spoke first and explained the principles of the sharing circle which are based on the Seven Sacred Teachings: Love, humility, honesty, wisdom, courage, truth and respect. She explained that a “talking stick” would be passed around and that people could share anything they wanted to share with the group as long as they adhered to the principles of the Sacred Teachings.

As the talking stick was passed around the circle, community members heard from councillors, elders, health professionals, and the band members at large. People made appeals for volunteers. One woman announced that she had recently beat breast cancer. And one woman was so overcome with emotion when she was handed the talking stick that she began to tear up and several women gathered around to comfort her.
It was a warm and special meeting. Community members seemed genuinely appreciative to be able to listen and be heard. The closeness of the community could be felt and that closeness was further strengthened by the meeting.

Because of a brewing storm and the fact that I had a burned out headlight, I opted to leave during the break to make sure I would make it home during daylight. That was before the talking stick had made its way around to me. So, I’d like to say thank you to the Chief and council and the band members of BON for welcoming me and allowing me to share in this special experience.