British Columbia

Rethink 150 promotes commemoration through First Nations perspective

A group in the Okanagan is offering a different perspective on Canada's 150th celebrations: through the eyes of the First Nations people.

Indigenous presenters want Canadians to reflect on the country's relationship with First Nations

The discussion series Rethink 150 will host an event on May 19 to invite Canadians to find alternative ways to commemorate the nation's anniversary. (AlterKnowledge/Facebook)

A group in the Okanagan is offering  a different perspective on Canada's 150th celebrations.

Rethink 150 is presenting Canadian history through the eyes of the First Nations people and as part of the event series, they're holding a discussion Friday evening at the Alternator Gallery in Kelowna's Rotary Centre for the Arts.

Organizer and presenter Dixon Terbasket has helped create these events as an opportunity to promote understanding of the country's Indigenous history through art and storytelling.

"That's what we're trying to do, we want to put together a showcase where people can come there and feel comfortable to hear some of the tough stories that we're going to talk about," he told Daybreak South host Jaimie Kehler.

The topics that can be most difficult to approach, like residential schools and reconciliation, are the ones that Terbasket says we need to dive into from both the First Nations and non-Native perspectives to make progress.

He said he's committed to engaging in those conversations and encourages people to approach the discussion with a willingness to learn.

"We have interesting talks but where does it go, how does it carry on, how do we answer some of the questions and get rid of some of the stereotypes to start building something that we're included in this process," Terbasket said.

'What are you celebrating?'

Terbasket grew up in the Similkameen area of B.C. where he says the community has been blended for decades, making discussion about reconciliation easier to approach locally.

His goal is to spread that level of awareness to a broader audience and to promote respect for Canada's Indigenous heritage.

"I question, what are you celebrating? From a First Nation's perspective, the genocide and all the things that happened to us, the loss of our language, our culture… and it really upsets me when people say get over it.

"I'm willing to do that but I think the history needs to be told and the settlements around B.C., they need to understand what they're benefiting from."

Finding one voice 

As he turns his focus toward his own community, Terbasket says he wants to see a "stronger one-voice system" to direct more effort put into accomplishing common goals and unifying the various organizations within each tribe.

"Each community has a band office, each group has a tribal administration, we have the AFN, we have the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, but we're not working together as far as a directive of coming together," he said.

The AlterKnowledge Discussion event Canada 150 & Alternative Commemoration takes place May 19 at 7 p.m.

To hear the full interview listen to audio below: