Spruce River Folk Festival

By Guest Contributor
August 10, 2017 - 12:56pm

SPRUCE RIVER FOLK FESTIVAL, August 12, 2017 featured in the film “Reserve 107: Reconciliation on the Prairies.”

It is difficult to remain on the public’s radar for a scattered group of Young Chippewayan descendants without legal status or government resources. Therefore the success of the film “Reserve 107: Reconciliation on the Prairies” (www.reserve107.ca) over the last year has given a welcome boost to the awareness of the story of the Young Chippewayan.

The film was shot in the summer of 2015 at Laird and at the Spruce River Folk Festival. It tells the story of overcoming the fears of the Young Chippewayan, Mennonite and Lutheran communities and the growing partnership between them. It will be shown throughout the day at this year’s Folk Fest with CD’s available for sale.

In addition to receiving film festival awards, the film has been shown in venues across Canada (including Parliament Hill), internationally, and in numerous classrooms at all levels. It was produced utilizing funds raised at previous Spruce River Folk Fests.

The Spruce River Folk Festival is a cultural event organized annually by a partnership which includes the Young Chippewayan First Nation, Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan, Parkland Restorative Justice, and Grace Mennonite Church in Prince Albert. The event is intended to create awareness of, and support for, Landless Bands in Saskatchewan, in particular the Young Chippewayan First Nation. The event will take place on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at the Spruce River Farm at Spruce Home, SK.

The Stoney Knoll Reserve (Reserve #107), in what is now the RM of Laird, was provided to the Young Chippewayan First Nation as a signatory to Treaty 6 at Fort Carlton in 1876.  A combination of factors (including repercussions from the 1885 Metis Resistance in the area) led to starvation, which resulted in the Band leaving the area to hunt. The pressure of European settlement then led to the Gov’t of Canada dissolving the band and taking away its land by Order in Council in 1897. No consent of the First Nation was ever sought or received and no compensation has ever been provided. (A more complete chronicle can be found at http://mcccanada.ca/media/resources/386.)

The Young Chippewayan were recently included in a successful legal action awarding compensation to 14 Saskatchewan First Nations whose annuities were taken away as punishment for the events of 1885 by the Gov’t of Canada.

In 2006 the Young Chippewayan First Nation and representatives of the Mennonite and Lutheran settlers in the area signed an MOU recognizing the historical injustice of what had occurred in 1897 and committing themselves to working in partnership to resolve the issue. The Spruce River Folk Festival fundraiser is a one aspect of that cooperation.

The Folk Fest features a fish fry and Mennonite sausage on bannock, a silent auction, and music.

The music begins at 1:00 pm, featuring Violet Naytowhow, J. Watt and the Rag Tags, Sparky and the Plugs, LJ Tyson, and Phyllis.

In addition, there will be an educational discussion at 11:30 am led by Keith Goulet, a Nehinuw (Cree) from Cumberland House in northern Saskatchewan, and former cabinet minister in the Romanow government. Keith was raised in a trapping, fishing, hunting, and gathering context.  He has a B.Ed., M.Ed. and is presently a Ph.D. candidate on the issue of land.  He has been a teacher, Cree language consultant, teacher education program developer (NORTEP), an executive director of Gabriel Dumont Institute and a regional community college principal. At the event, Keith will present on the Cree concept of land with a focus on the Cumberland House Nehinuw Cree. He will also give a review on the history of the research debate on Algonquian lands.

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