It was a warm welcome Friday morning from the Saskatoon Tribal Council for several Syrian refugees who recently arrived the area.
STC invited a bus full of refugees out to Wanuskewin Heritage Park for an official welcome, as well as an introduction to some traditional First Nation culture.
Tribal Chief Felix Thomas says the welcome is significant because First Nations were the “original welcomers” to the European settlers.
“That opportunity of the land and the sharing of the land needs to extend to the latest refugees and immigrants in Canada,” says Chief Thomas.
One of the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was to educate newcomers about the treaties and the history of the residential schools.
“First Nations have a story and residential schools took away that story,” says Chief Thomas in speaking about that recommendation. “We need stories said by us, written by us and expounded by us.”
Abdual Raham Chahadh was one of the refugees at Friday’s event and he says his only understanding of First Nations culture before Friday was from what he saw on movies and television. Chahadh says his family enjoyed today’s presentation and they learned a lot.
Dana Soonias, the CEO of Wanuskewin, says there will be more opportunity for the refugees to learn about Indigenous culture in the future.
“We look forward to welcoming them back and having them here for some more events and activities to really give them a cultural experience and something they can gain a lot more value out of,” says Soonias.
During Friday’s event, the refugees were able to partake in their very first round dance, enjoy some of Wanuskewin’s “World’s Best Bannock” as well as a few other traditional practices.