Debates of the Senate  
  1st Session, 39th Parliament,Volume 143, Issue 113.
    Friday, June 22, 2007
 
National Aboriginal Day
  Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, yesterday was National Aboriginal Day, a day to celebrate the contributions that Aboriginal people have made to Canada.

I take this opportunity to honour and thank the elders in our Aboriginal communities. They are the carriers of traditional knowledge and wisdom. They are like living encyclopedias. They have wisdom and knowledge acquired over a lifetime of experience acquired by participating in sacred ceremonies, by learning from their own elders and by lessons learned from overcoming the obstacles in their own lives.

Honourable senators, on this day I want to thank four elders from Saskatchewan. First, I thank the late Elder Emma Sand from the Mistawasis First Nation. She taught me to honour my heart and to speak not only from my mind, but also from my heart. She also told me that when speaking, one should not use only a prepared text. She said that one must ask the Creator to guide one's words, and in that way, one will be speaking to the person or people to whom one is meant to speak.

Second, I thank the late Elder Smith Atimoyoo for his wisdom. He explained to me the meaning of the Cree phrase, "Napkaso kasispowataw." I did not learn Cree at home and now have learned only a few words. In its simplest interpretation, the phrase means, "be like a man this is something to remember me by." Its deeper meaning though, he explained to me at length, was that I had to have the courage and strength of a man in order to overcome what I had been taught to believe in mainstream society and, instead, live in accordance with what I know is the right way to live. This deeply philosophical and spiritual message is one that I still struggle to understand and live by.

Third, I thank Elder Laura Wasacase from Ochapawase First Nation for taking me under her wing and teaching me how to honour myself as an Aboriginal woman, for sharing her wisdom with me and for including me in her woman's circle.

Lastly, I want to thank a non-Aboriginal elder, the late Mr. A. John Dyer, who was my chemistry teacher from high school. He saw the potential in me and my brother and set us on the path to university education, and most certainly, he would have believed what our Aboriginal elders in Saskatchewan say: "Paskww mostoswa k-kisk-inwaha-m-khk," which in English means, "education is our buffalo."