Local Indigenous leaders honour Maori delegation for sharing family reunification program

[Winnipeg Free Press, March 27, 2018 by Alexandra Paul, Photo by Phil Hossack – Read article online]

Manitoba Indigenous leaders led a traditional ceremony Monday to thank a visiting Maori delegation for the gift of a traditional model of child welfare to reunite fractured Aboriginal families.

Winnipeg-based social service agency Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre played host to the ceremony and invited government funders and private sponsors — along with leaders from the Manitoba Metis Federation, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak and Southern Chiefs’ Organization — to greet the New Zealand delegation.

MKO Grand Chief Sheila North welcomed the four Maori child-welfare leaders in Cree and English.

“Thank you for coming here to hear the plight of our people, and also Ma Mawi and everyone for hosting them. It’s a great pleasure to welcome you here on behalf of the Cree, Dene communities,” North said.

Jests and jokes broke up the solemn nature of the ceremony that included Maori songs, an Ojibway honour song and gift presentations. The event lasted well into the afternoon. Staff handed out chilled bottles of water to keep the audience hydrated.

As a northern leader, North told the Maori group she represented 72,000 Indigenous people in Manitoba.