During the summer of 2015, communication between Northern Mat & Bridge and Sucker Creek First Nation began. As the leaves on the trees began to change colour, that communication turned into friendship and as the leaves fell and the first snowflakes of the winter dropped down, our friendship had grown into a trustworthy relationship. As of October 2015, Northern Mat & Bridge and Sucker Creek First Nation committed to a business partnership.
The Northern Mat & Bridge (NMBLP) and Sucker Creek First Nation (SCFN) Joint Venture is a business venture between NMBLP, SCFN Ventures LP and SCFN, which demonstrates our success and commitment to developing long-term partnerships within the communities in which we work. As a part of our commitment to this partnership, it was imperative that NMB employees have a clear understanding of our new partners and their rich and complex culture.
On Tuesday November 24th, Darlene Cardinal – Sucker Creek First Nation tribe member and President and CEO of Dar Car Developments – came to our Grande Prairie office to give her Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training. It was a truly amazing experience; full of culture, tradition, emotion and education.
Darlene started the morning out by explaining the powerful technique of smudging – which is a ceremonial way to cleanse a person, place or object of negative energy and replace it with positive energy. Although there are many ways to smudge, she taught us basic fundamentals and showed us some different variations of sage and sweet grass, which are common herbs used in the purification practice. After we all had a thorough understanding of why we smudge, Darlene conducted a smudging so that we could clear our energy and make room for the teachings that the day would bring.
The next item on the agenda was learning some of the key social differences between our cultures. Such differences included how one would approach an elder, shake hands and use eye contact. After learning the indigenous ways of social behavior and interaction, it is easy to see how quickly a misunderstanding between an aboriginal and non-aboriginal could occur. We then learned about treaties and treaty rights, bringing us into lunch.
A homemade lunch was brought in by Darlene and Marge; another member of the Sucker Creek First Nation. They served a moose stew, home grown potatoes, a corn and a carrot side dish and bannock with homemade blueberry jam. For dessert, there was a traditional Métis rice pudding. With full bellies and full hearts we all went back for the remainder of our awareness seminar.
The rest of the day was spent learning about the residential schools and the tremendous impacts it had on aboriginal people throughout the country. Darlene shared her personal stories which were highly emotional and had staggering impact. She shared this website with us for anyone who would like to learn more about the legacy of residential schools.
The day was concluded with a very special drumming and song performed by Darlene. From everyone at Northern Mat & Bridge, we would like to extend a special thank you to Darlene Cardinal and the Sucker Creek First Nation for sharing your culture, traditions and personal experiences with us. We look forward to our exciting journey as we work together in a mutually respectful and understanding way.