The elder’s retreat this year was in Waterton Lakes National Park. A three-day retreat held on May 9-11 at the beautiful Waterton Lakes Lodge. This year, Peigan Prevention Counseling Services was responsible for the organization of activities and speakers for the retreat.
Each morning started off with presentations from the Piikani Nation elders, Shirley Crow Shoe and Peter Strikes With Gun. Shirley shared some information on some of the Blackfoot language with the other elders on pronunciation. Together they all discussed the new words translated into the Blackfoot language. It was a learning opportunity for all who were in attendance. Shirley carries a great deal of knowledge with her as it was passed down to her by her grandparents. With her knowledge she shared insights about Waterton Park and the importance of this area to the Blackfoot people. From the passageway west of Red Rock Canyon to the beavers giving us the sacred bundle from the lake, Paahtomahksikimi will always remain a sacred site to the Siksikaitsitapi.
Roberta Yellow Horn, who organized the event, expressed her concern about the state of how some of our elder’s health seems to be deteriorating at a fast pace. “Chronic ailments seem to be taking over and our elders feel safe being at home. We need a place in our community for the elders to feel safe and for the community to engage with our nation elder’s”
With the low number this year with attendance, the elder’s that attended the retreat were treated to mindfulness activities, painting, bingo and fun games that put a smile on their faces.
Peter Strikes With A Gun talked about the importance of well-being, “to work on yourself so therefore you are ready to serve others and to lend them a helping hand when needed” as Peter had stated to the attendees during his presentation. He reminded the elders of how important they are to the community. Peter was invited to talk to the nations elders on the last day of the retreat. The message that was giving to all in attendance was to be resilient and to make yourself available.
The theme for this years Elder’s retreat was “What does Wellness mean to you”? The elder’s were given the opportunity to speak on what they like to see in the community in terms of services, and made available for our nations elders and how they feel. Most talked about being self-reliant, being safe, belonging and indigenous mental health.
If we all took some time out of our busy schedules to visit and talk to our nation elders, they expressed they would very much appreciate it.
Next year’s Elder Retreat will once again be held in Waterton mid July.