It was a bit of a surreal feeling early in the morning when Dani Lewis heard the news that she had just been selected to attend a national reconciliation leadership workshop for her artwork.
The Grade 7 Brooklyn Elementary student said the news came early in the morning as she woke up for school and found out she was selected as a reconciliation ambassador for Imagine a Canada’s National Leadership Workshop and Ceremony celebrating reconciliation in Winnipeg.
“Imagine a Canada is a great way to bring attention to reconciliation,” Lewis explained. “One of my mom’s friends told me about the competition and I feel that it was important because I’ve learned what reconciliation is and I feel it was important because my Dënesuliné language and culture has been negatively affected … (it is) becoming a dead language.”
Imagine a Canada is a competition through the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba. It asked young people across the country from kindergarten to grade 12 to demonstrate how they can be a leader in reconciliation and to make the future of Canada a more respectful place.
They asked students to share their vision of what reconciliation can be through a poem, song, painting, sculpture, rap, drawing or anything else.
One person from each province and territory was chosen as a reconciliation ambassador to the National Leadership Workshop and Ceremony celebrating reconciliation
Lewis, a Kumugwe dancer, created a drawing – Story Through Song – for her submission.
The drawing showcases a dancer who is dancing to songs which have been passed on for generations.
“When I dance in the Big House, it is the safest place to be,” she explained. “Learning about the importance of each song and dance and learning the language is healing. I would like for the rest of Canada to learn more about Indigenous ways of knowing … (and) to learn more about our shared history and what was almost taken away from us.”
She added she would like the rest of the country to have a better appreciation for language and culture.
Lewis’ drawing depicts two female dancers inside the Big House.
“I think people can heal through culture which is why I chose to draw that.”
She explained the conference, which takes place later this month, will help her with strategies to assist with reconciliation and to help people who don’t understand what true reconciliation is and what Indigenous people have gone through.
“I hope to be a better leader for the future.”
For more information about the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, click here.