In August of 2016, Sioux valley held their 2nd annual Residential School Survivors Gathering at the former Brandon Residential School site, which Sioux Valley owns. A news article of that event perked the interest of Karen Wilson Baptist, an instructor at the University of Manitoba. Thinking this location and this project would be a perfect teaching opportunity for the universities Environmental Design Program, she contacted Della Mansoff, a member of our treatment centre committee. Della quickly brought this to the group which was interested in this opportunity. A quick meeting was held with Karen Wilson Baptist and her Teaching Assistant Brydget Lewicki. It was proposed that the UofM students in the Landscape and Urbanism Option use our project as their main study for the 2017 winter term. They would visit the Brandon Residential School site, do some required reading and learn some history to create their own concept of what the treatment centre could look like, as well as how to best to use the land in a respectful manner.
A tour of the site was arranged for March 2, 2017. Students arrived on site with cameras in hand, bursting with ideas and questions. They were met by Marge Roscelli, Della Mansoff, Toni Pashe, Elder Leona Noel and Councillor Elton Taylor. They were given unrestricted access to the site, as well as the residential school cemetery to the north. A truly eye opening experience for some of the students. After the tour of the site, the students, Instructor Karen Wilson Baptist and Teaching Assistan Brydget Lewicki visited Sioux Valley to get a feel of our community and culture. Any current and relevant plans for the treatment centre were shared with our visitors. After the presentation, they had a better understanding of the full scope of the project. The day was finished with a visit to the buffalo compound, where they saw our two white buffalos and received some parting words from Kevin Tacan.
Yesterday (05.03.17) they returned with their concept designs. They came back with their own presentations to share with our Healing Centre Committee and our Chief Vince Tacan. Over the course of just a few hours, the students proudly and bravely displayed and presented what their vision of treatment centre and the site could be. To see the amount of thought and work went into each and every concept was almost overwhelming. Every detail and every word of their presentations was not only heard by the committee and the chief, but it was also felt. On this day, those students taught us the potential of what this entire project could be, and for that we are truly thankful.
Though there is still much work to be done, Sioux valley Dakota Nation would like to thank Karen Wilson Baptist and Brydget Lewicki for approaching us with the opportunity. And we would like to thank Pauline Ordones, Andrea Doussis, Sulah Kim, Simone, Sucharov-Benarroch, Nicole Reenders, Michaela Peyson, Jerome Basilio, Jeremy Chan, Matthew Peters, Anita Collins, Haim Chernyakov, Gabriel Stacey-Chartrand, Weiqing Li, Carl Sotomil, Carl Valdez, Kenworth Sayson, Abdulselam Yussuf, Desirée Theriault and Alexa Thiessen for all their hard work and beautiful concept designs.