Session Descriptions

Four, one-hour concurrent sessions will be offered on Saturday, March 16, 2019.  Conference participations will choose from 15 workshop topics.  Each of these 15 presenters will conduct his/her session four times during the day at the following times (9:45 am, 11:00 am, 1:00 pm and 2:15 pm).  Please refer to each facilitator to be kept up-to-date on session availability.

Please note: the WORKSHOP 11 Cowboy Smithx has been replaced by Linda Boudreau-Semaganis – Balance

The 2019 Session Line Up!

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WORKSHOP 1 – Suicide Prevention – Dyami Thomas                                                              American Indian actor Dyami Thomas is an enrolled member of the Klamath tribes in Oregon and descendant of the Leech Lake Anishinabe in Minnesota.  He is the recipient of the National Unity Organizations prestigious 2016 class of “25 under 25” award and International model and actor.  He is currently filming a show called “Fry Bread” in Phoenix, AR.  Dyami has remained rooted in his culture and tradition and implements teachings from his Klamath and Anishinabe heritage into his everyday life.  Dyami is a youth basketball coach, mentor, suicide prevention peer counsellor and advocate for “Native Youth Leading Youth”; a movement started by himself and his sister Rebecca in 2015.
In this Suicide Prevention workshop, Dyami speaks from a positive and uplifting youth perspective about the importance of life, especially the highs and lows that weave throughout our journeys. Self affirmation and positive self talk are essential to maintaining a certain appreciation for oneself. Dyami will share stories, tips and self affirmation exercises that will teach the importance of self care, genuine self love, self respect, and a renewed reflection on life.
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WORKSHOP 2 – So Youth Think You Know All About Sex – Natascha Okimaw                                                                             Natascha Okimaw is a mother of three who comes from tray 8 territory and currently resides in Grande Prairie, AB.  She has attained her Business Administration Diploma and an Associate of Arts Degree.  She has been working with the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre for ten years and is currently the Cultural Navigator for the Northern Indigenous Health Alliance (NIHA).  NIHA works to educate and work with individuals who are at risk or living with HIV and/or other STBBI’s.                                                                                                                                                                                  So You Think You Know All About Sex is an interactive team quiz show about sex , sexual health, HIV/AIDS, STTBIs and healthy relationships.  You compete in teams to see who really knows it all, while in the process learning and having fun.  PRIZES TO BE WON!
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WORKSHOP 3 – Becoming a Pow Wow Dancer – Amanda Lamothe  For the past 24 years Amanda Lamothe (pronounced: La-Mott) has been showcasing the beauty and richness of Indigenous People through Native Dance, Native Flute and Storytelling. 
In Grande Prairie, Amanda started her career in the education field as a Native Liaison, working at both the Public and Catholic High Schools, under the Native Education Project run by the local Native Friendship Centre.
She also took over the reins of the local performing Native Dance Troupe, The Peywapun Dancers. The highlight was being able to bring a troupe of youth as the cultural performing contingent for Team Alberta North for the Arctic Winter Games.
Most memorable moments have been sharing the success and pride through dance, flute and story at the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education in New Zealand. Amanda enjoys being able to travel the powwow trail dancing alongside her 5 beautiful children and precious Grandchild. She attends ceremony whenever possible with her family, and spends most free time beading and sewing, and helping those wanting to learn and follow the sweetgrass path.  In Becoming a Pow Wow Dancer, you will listen to the live sounds of Native Flute as Amanda shares her story on how Elder Loretta Parenteau-English taught her everything she needed to get started as a powwow dancer. Participants will be given the basic information needed to start their journey. Come ready to move to the heart beat drum, basic steps will be shared for all Powwow dance categories. Let’s have some fun and discover all the opportunities that Native Dance has to offer!
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WORKSHOP 4 – Fierce with Heart – Connie Greyeyes & Helen Knott                                         Connie Greyeyes has worked with Amnesty International on issues pertaining to Missing and Murdered Indigenous women as well as been a part of several other initiatives. Helen Knott has created various poetry videos and worked on the CBC Short Doc, “Peace River Rising”. She has several pieces published including a full length memoir that will be release in the fall of 2019.                                                                         What does it mean to live fierce with heart in today’s world? National activist, Connie Greyeyes and poet and author, Helen Knott engage participants in an active discussion and lead them through exercises to discover how they can live more fierce with heart.  Each facilitator will share what it means to live authentically and mindfully in today’s world as a part of the workshop to relay personal learnings and insight into living fierce with heart.
WORKSHOP 5 – Creation of Inner Self(In a traditional way) – Loretta Parenteau-English Elder Loretta Parenteau-English is a member of the Piikani Nation in Southern Alberta and has resided in northern Alberta since 1989. She is a mother of five beautiful children and mother in law to four beautiful daughters and one amazing son. This year she is expecting her 20th grandchild. Loretta believes in passing traditional knowledge, not only to her family but to the community and all people willing to learn. Loretta believes in the two ways of knowing that provides people with love, understanding and respect for each other. In this workshop, Creation of Inner Self, the beginning of life starts with the umbilical cord being held as a precious keepsake. Loretta will share teachings around keeping medicines close to you. Youth will leave this workshop with their own traditional emulate of various designs from mother earth such as turtle, lizard, horse, etc.
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WORKSHOP 6 – Empower Yourself Over Pain – Vincent Rain                                                          Facilitator Vincent Rain is Nakoda Sioux.
He has danced a greater part of his life always immersing himself in culture.
Following a cultural way of life has opened doors for Vincent that he could never have imagined. 
Vincent’s life was not always filled with good times. He grew up in an impoverished lifestyle filled turmoil and pain. He has had his fair share of hard times and losses. Alcoholism, systemic abuse, mental, sexual and physical abuse could have derailed my life if he let it. He had to learn to empower himself over the pain and suffering he endured.
The story he tells is of how he overcame that way of life to become empowered over his negative experiences.
“How To Empower Yourself Over Pain”
Overcoming; Alcohol & Drugs, abuse, learning my traditional role as a man lead to healthy relationships
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WORKSHOP 7 –  Healing Through Exploitation -Danielle Boudreau                                                                                  Danielle Boudreau has advocated and spoken on behalf of missing and murdered women for over 15 years. Coming from an experiential background she has endured a life of addiction, abuse and exploitation. In 2006, after 2 of her friends, who were deemed “high risk” were murdered, Danielle started a walk to memorialize women who were missing or murdered. Two weeks after the first walk, her younger sister was murdered in her own home. This prompted Danielle to heal from her past, accept her present and work towards a future raising awareness on the issue of MMIW by using her personal story “Healing from Exploitation… “
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WORKSHOP 8 – Breaking Barriers in Life – Clinton & Venessa Soto Through living a life of sobriety and building healthy relationships within a family structure of practicing Indigenous Traditional life.
Husband Clinton Soto and Wife Venessa Soto, both live a healthy life style of 20 year’s sobriety and raise their six children with the guidance and teachings of Indigenous family values and how to maintain healthy relationships both within the family and communities.
Clinton Soto was on the first Spirit Seekers committee with the goal of encouraging the youth, by putting up a conference for them. Clinton has been involved in many gatherings across Canada to share Indigenous Culture with the aim of breaking down barriers. His wife Venessa Soto, graduated from the Grande Prairie Regional College with honours in 2015, while caring for their 6 children. She has also, been a recipient of the Grande Prairie Regional College Early Learning and Childcare, Director of the Year award for 2018.  Clinton and Venessa will share about the barriers they faced and had to over come in life as an Indigenous couple and how to maintain balance in their lives as the collectively work together in raising their children. It will be sharing their story and facilitating some team building games with the youth as away of getting to know your community.
WORKSHOP 9 – Ceremonial Song & Prayer – Marjorie Belcourt                                  Kokum Marjorie Belcourt is a ceremonial leader and Cree Elder from Kelly Lake BC
  Mother of seven kokum to many, Marjorie was Born 1945 in High Prairie AB her family relocated to Prince George BC where she lived most of her life raised as a catholic. Marjorie was brought into this way of life through the love for her family and her belief in the power of  prayer urged by her late husband at the age of 56 to complete her first Sundance she was then introduced to traditional spirituality 
 through this powerful healing experience combined with unwavering strength and commitment she began to earn a place as a ceremonialist and is known for her sincerity and kindness.  Marjorie is a well respected elder in her community and is often called on to lead ceremonies with her sacred pipe or to hold sweat lodges for family friends and community Marjorie will share her gifts and knowledge through ceremonial song and prayer.
WORKSHOP 10 – Zen-Doodle Meditation – Krista Umble                                                                    Krista Umble enjoys playing volleyball and slo-pitch, gardening, picking berries, yoga, quadding and playing video games. Krista leads a weekly youth group called the Healthy Ninjas – a program focused on healthy eating, active living and being a positive role model in the community. She lives in Grande Prairie with her husband, two boys and her animals. Her words of wisdom for Indigenous youth…be inspired! be purposeful! be a leader!  In this workshop, Zen-Doodle Meditation, you will learn to quiet the mind and create an amazing art piece! There is an artist in all of us, this zen-doodle art project will uncover your hidden artistic capabilities while learning a bit on how to quiet the mind
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WORKSHOP 11 – Balance – Linda Boudreau-Semaganis
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WORKSHOP 12 – Bloodlines – Mary Jo Badger.                                    Mary-jo Badger is a nehiyaw born and raised in Grande Prairie, Alberta.  She is a member of the Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation.  She is an original member of the first ever Spirit Seekers Youth Council.  Currently she resides in Edmonton, Alberta where she attained her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Native Studies at University of Alberta.  She has certification in Trauma Recovery and understanding in models of Indigenous reclamation and resurgence of languages, kinship and connection to the land from elders and mentors.  Her work is influenced by her passion to help break barriers that inhibit people from reaching their aspiring successes for themselves and future generations.  Mary-Jo will share her learning of what informed trauma care is and how she complements it in practice with the communities she works with.  She shares how this work has assisted her own understanding in personal challenges she faced as a youth and how this has led to learning greater lessons of resiliency through empathy, compassion and bloodlines.  Youth in this session will get the opportunity to understand how trauma affects an individual and how learning to heal ourselves will assist on helping answering questions on identity, belonging, purpose. Looking within to find your greatest ally is in you and in the blood.
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WORKSHOP 13 – Totamaso: Do It Yourself – Patrick Buffalo.               Patrick Buffalo is Kisikaw Pimotew (Daywalker). He is from the traditional territory of Maskwacis. He is a certified hypnotherapist, reiki master and Master of Complementary Therapies. He is also a trained Equine therapist. Many people come to his ranch for a wellness program he offers MANACISO: Healing with Horses. He also travels to communities to offer his programs. His workshop, entitled ABSTRACT TOTAMASO: To do it yourself. What does this mean? Newiyaw is an identity, Moniyaw is a description. Our people have lost themselves with the moniyaw influence and yet what the world is looking for is what our ancestors had. Kisikaw Pimotew will present information that will help the participants understand the difference between what Newiyaw is and what Moniyaw means. Thought is energy , thought is vibration, energy is a language. It is a language we use all the time but hardly anyone speaks and understands this language. Newiyawwawin is the language that connects us to the higher vibration that brings wellness, resilience, peace and harmony. Kisikaw will show how energy is communicated and expressed.
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WORKSHOP 14 – Traditional Hand Games – Tina Isadore     Tina Isadore is a very proud Nehiyaw Iskwew from the Driftpile Cree Nation of the Treaty 8 territory. Tina is a cultural arts instructor/facilitator. She has shared various teachings such as; traditional hand games, traditional roles of women, teachings of the drum, medicine wheel teachings, powwow dancing, beading, sewing: powwow regalia, baby mossbags, ribbonskirts/ribbonshirts. Tina comes from a long line of strong cultural and traditional heritage. Both the men and the women shared the teachings of the hand drum as well as the big drum. With the teachings of the drums came the songs; which include tea dance songs, powwow songs and round dance songs. Along with the drums and the songs came dance. The big drum has taught us the intertribal celebration of powwow dance. The hand drum teachings brought us tea dance and round dance, as well as traditional hand games. As mother to Mekwan, Mikisiw, Wapastim, Blossom and Mistahaya, Tina ensures that her children learn the importance to maintain a balance of living in our modern way of life but more importantly to learn our traditional ways that have been passed on from generation to generation.  In this handgame workshop, participants will join Tina and her children aka her handgame team to gain knowledge and understanding of not one but two different styles of traditional handgames! All participants will learn through hands on experience of playing or even from spectating! The participants will experience the vibrant sound of the hand drums that will lead us into an exciting game of using our minds to trick the other players on the opposite team. Be prepared to be tricky and hide your object in one of your hands without the other team guessing which hand! Be prepared to laugh! Be prepared to have fun!
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WORKSHOP 15 – Healing Through Songwriting – Dani & Lizzy                                                 Amazing things happen when you open your heart, and Dani & Lizzy can tell you about it.  The Vancouver duo released their debut album Work of Heart in September 2016, a collection of pop, hip-hop, R&B and throwback soul.  Curently Dani & Lizzy have been touring across Canada while completing their highly anitcipated sophomore album “RISE”.  “We’re a very close team,” says Dani Nelson, they’ve been making music together since they were kids.  As teens, they were rapping and breakdancing in a local hip-hop crew.  More recently, they’ve been brought their genre-blending material to Canadian Music Week and BC’s Shambhala Music Festival.  Healing through songwriting is a hands on workshop! Each participant will get to write lyrics and get a real feel for the process. This workshop is an introduction to the craft of songwriting. The basic essentials are covered, finding the inspiration to write, choosing song topics, setting the mood with beats and instrumentals and writing lyrics. Dani and Lizzy touch on they’re own life experiences, how songwriting has been an amazingly therapeutic tool for they’re healing journey. Every participant recieves a workbook with songwriting tips and tricks.