Journalist Nancy Furness Talks "Indigenous" with Ernie Cardinal of the Spirit of the Children Society.

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Journalist Nancy Furness Talks "Indigenous" with Ernie Cardinal of the Spirit of the Children Society.

Nancy Furness (We’ve Got Issues) speaks with Ernie Cardinal from Spirit of the Children Society, a multi-faceted, Indigenous organization started in 2006. Ernie first became involved as a community member and was later offered a position as a Youth Program Manager. He ran a very successful youth program in Port Coquitlam until the pandemic hit. After the pandemic, Ernie was hired back as the Indigenous Cultural Liaison Advisor sharing information about programs geared to people spanning ages from pre-natal to the elders.

The Youth Program runs out of the PoCo hub-office near Leigh Square. Programs run 4:30pm-7:00pm Mon-Fri. with one-to-one services and youth outreach in the afternoons. The Early Childhood Development (ECD) Program from New Westminster is partnering to create a warm and inviting space for free-play, development and cultural learning programs.

Many programs are open to anyone who would like to be part of Truth and Reconciliation efforts, to learn about Indigenous issues, and to be much-needed positive allies. Ernie is Master of Ceremonies at the gatherings and hopes many people will join.

Ernie shares some ‘hard truths’ about how Indigenous people knew about the graves found two years ago at the residential school in Tk’emlúps territory and how they tried to tell people, but no one would listen. Now there is an annual ceremony in Hume Park, New Westminster with a teddy-bear for each child discovered. The Truth and Reconciliation Day ceremony in September draws over a thousand people, creating a ‘sea of orange’. Ernie invites everyone to attend. There is a pipe ceremony to connect people, and every child is given a toy in memory and in celebration of those who were denied a childhood.

Ernie is a skilled and passionate storyteller and uses stories as ‘word-medicine’. Rob McCullough of New Westminster (Museum and Archives Manager) has recorded videos of Ernie promoting aboriginal culture in a story-telling way. Spirit of the Children is open to educating everyone.

Ernie recently went to Riverside School and shared traditional medicines (tobacco and sage) with respectful and engaged students. He did a moosehide talk at New Westminster Secondary School several weeks after graves were found at the residential school that his parents attended.

Spirit of the Children Society hosts many ceremonies and free, inclusive day camps for children; they are stepping up as a community should. We look forward to talking to Ernie again soon.


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Video Upload Date: March 2, 2023

The Tri-Cities Community Television Society is a Not-For-Profit organization in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody, BC, offering training in media production skills and provides an opportunity for community voices to be heard.

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