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SICC Celebrates 25th Anniversary

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      OCTOBER 1997      SPECIAL EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT v27 n03 p11  
Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre
Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre

The Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre (SICC) is currently celebrating its 25th year of supporting education and cultural awareness for First Nation people. In recognition of this event, the SICC Board of Governors, President Linda Pelly-Landrie and SICC staff are hosting a huge schedule of events beginning on September 25, 1997 and lasting for three days.

The concept of the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College, as it was known at its inception, was envisioned in 1970. Recognizing the need for a resurgence in First Nation cultural identity following the residential school regime, the FSIN initiated a Task Force on First Nation education in 1970.

"Indian control of Indian education" became the goal. In 1972, SICC was established. The mandate was to provide quality and professional service to First Nation people. While this mandate has remained constant over the years, the structure of the SICC has changed dramatically.

SICC began as a teaching institution offering students courses ranging from social work to art to the trades. As the demand for these courses grew, SICC splintered and self-sustaining institutions grew. The Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (SIFC), the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology (SIIT) and the Indian Teacher Education Program (ITEP) all had their origins with the SICC.

Although the original structure had splintered, SICC adapted and grew. The focus of SICC changed from instruction to cultural education. The SICC staff works, in part, to preserve Saskatchewan First Nation heritage. Projects of this nature have included establishing an Elders' webpage on the Internet and the transfer of audio files to compact disk. This transfer allows the Elders' words to be catalogued to facilitate access to their wisdom.

The bulk of the work at SICC is in developing resource materials that reflect the cultural diversity of Saskatchewan's First Nations. Among these projects was the creation of curriculum that addresses environment-related topics. The materials, entitled Practising the Law of Circular Interaction: First Nation Environment and Conservation Principles, have received international recognition. The curriculum is used frequently in Canada.

Staff at SICC have also developed multi-media teaching resources, computer fonts for Aboriginal languages and audio-visual resources. The Centre also holds annual language workshops with First Nation language instructors and educators who have the opportunity to network and share their ideas.

Currently, the SICC is doing the groundwork to establish the First Nation Keeping House. The project will be a museum that is entirely First Nation-controlled and operated.

All of these accomplishments will be honoured during the up-coming celebrations. The schedule begins on September 25 with an Aboriginal Talent Search at the Centennial Auditorium. Ten semi-finalists will perform for a trophy and recording session. Tom Jackson and Gordon Tootoosis will be the Masters of Ceremonies and Litefoot is the featured performer.

On September 26, the SICC Anniversary Corporate Banquet and Art Auction will be held. Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) Chief Blaine Favel, Saskatchewan Indian Veterans Association Grand Chief Howard Anderson and Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief Phil Fontaine are scheduled to address the more than 500 guests.

September 27 begins with a pancake breakfast in downtown Saskatoon. The day continues with the SICC 25th Anniversary Celebration Traditional Powwow. Grand Entry is at 1:00 p.m. with day pay for all dancers and singers. A trade show and juried art show are also scheduled on this day.

The highlight of the celebration is the First Nations Confederacy of Cultural Education Centres (FNCCEC) National Conference. The three-day event features the election of the National President and serves as the General Assembly. It will be held at the Sands Hotel in Saskatoon. For more information on the events schedule contact Janet Ahenakew at 244-1146.