‘Seven Gens’ all ready to welcome the world

Heather Latter

Upwards of 100 delegates from as far away as Hawaii, Alaska, Norway, New Zealand, and Australia will be gathering in Rainy River District next week as part of the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium’s annual meeting.
“It’s a network of indigenous higher education academics, elders, and knowledge-keepers who gather every year to move forward the United Nations’ declaration on the rights of indigenous people,” explained Laura Horton, executive co-chair of WINHEC and the director of post-secondary education programs at Seven Generations Education Institute here.
“Our focus is on post-secondary education that is culturally-viable and sound, and making space in mainstream,” she noted.
Horton added WINHEC is committed to building partnerships that restore and retain indigenous spirituality, cultures and languages, homelands, social systems, economic systems, and self-determination.
She said the Seven Generations Education Institute is a signatory of the original charter, encouraged by their late elder, Anne Wilson, to join the effort and work.
Horton explained the annual meeting is being held locally because of her executive role with the organization.
She has been a part of WINHEC since it was launched with the signing of the Declaration on Indigenous Peoples Higher Education on Aug. 5, 2002 in Kananskis, Alta. during the 6th World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education.
The annual meeting, running Monday to Friday next week, will be include meetings of the World Indigenous Nations University (WINU), Global Indigenous Elders Alliance (GIEA), World Indigenous Research Alliance (WIRA), the WINHEC Accreditation Board (BoA), and WINHEC working committees.
Horton said opening ceremonies will take place Monday at 9:30 a.m. at the Rainy River First Nations’ pow-wow grounds and all are welcome to attend.
“If they want to come and wear their regalia, they can dance in,” Horton noted, explaining the ceremony will begin with Saagichiwe Dewe’igan presiding.
A grand entry will be led by Eagle staffs, veterans, elders, and dancers, followed by the WINHEC delegation.
“Pipes will be offered, the water will be spoken for, and spirits will be addressed to ensure we conduct our work in a good way,” Horton said.
“Welcoming remarks will then be spoken and we will continue with our work.”
Ontario Aboriginal Affairs minister David Zimmer, Regional Chief Isadore Day for the Chiefs of Ontario, incumbent MP John Rafferty, and Ogichidaa Warren White, Grand Chief of Grand Council Treaty #3, are expected to be in attendance.
The delegates then will head to the Kah-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historic Centre for lunch and an address by the executive committee plenary session.
Tuesday will encompass meetings of the WINU and the WINHEC Board of Accreditation, as well as a youth session to create a slide story of WINHEC 2015.
The evening will include dinner at Naicatchewenin First Nation, the WINU Award, SGEI Awards, and social time.
Wednesday will focus on WINHEC working committees at Nanicost, followed by a keynote address by Fred Kelly at 1:15 p.m.
“I will open this session to listeners,” Horton said.
“Fred is amazing,” she added. “His talk is called ‘When the Spirit Moves.’”
In the evening, delegates will watch a movie entitled “Bridge Walkers,” which is a documentary bringing forth ancient prophecies and indigenous wisdom for healing of humanity and our Earth.
Then on Thursday at Nanicost, there will be a keynote address by Dr. Marie Battiste.
“She is hugest name in Canadian indigenous education,” Horton enthused.
“She is internationally-renowned. She is coming to talk to us.
“If there are people out there who are interested in hearing her, I’m not going to turn anyone away,” she pledged.
“The gym will hold 200 people,” Horton added.
“And if 200 people heard these really good messages, I would be ecstatic.”
That evening will feature WINHEC Manu Corraboree entertainment with family at the Townshend Theatre.
The event then will wrap up Friday with the WINHEC annual meeting.
Horton noted if any businesses are interested in donating a gift for the event, it gladly would be accepted.
“The success of WINHEC is based on international collaboration on all aspects of indigenous higher education,” Horton stressed.
“As indigenous peoples, we recognize the lifelong learning process.
“We are hard-working, problem-solving indigenous peoples,” she added. “Our peoples are the centre of our efforts.
“We are creating pathways to give voice to indigenous peoples globally.”
For more information, visit www.win-hec.org