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SCO Set to Welcome Hundreds of Survivors to Second Annual Healing Gathering

January 18, 2024

“SCO is creating welcoming, safe spaces in which we can gather, learn from one another, and laugh together” -Grand Chief Daniels


ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB — The Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) is set to welcome more than 550 Survivors from 84 First Nations to our second annual Survivors’ Healing Gathering. This year’s gathering kicks off today and runs for two days at the Victoria Inn Hotel and Convention Centre in Winnipeg.

“On behalf of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization, I want to send a warm welcome to the hundreds of First Nation Survivors and intergenerational Survivors who are planning to spend the next two days with us in Treaty One Territory,” shared SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “Our team has been working hard to create welcoming, safe spaces in which we can gather, learn from one another, and laugh together.”

The event is geared towards Survivors and intergenerational Survivors of residential schools, day schools, the Sixties Scoop, the child welfare system, along with all those who are impacted by the national emergency of our missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, two spirit, and gender-diverse (MMIWG2s+) relatives.

The gathering will feature keynote addresses from remarkable speakers, including award-winning lawyer Kimberley Murray. A member of the Kahnesatake Mohawk Nation, Ms. Murray is the Independent Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites associated with residential schools and is the former Executive Director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. 

Tomorrow, Colleen Cardinal Hele is one of several keynote speakers joining us. Ms. Cardinal Hele is co-founder and Executive Director of the National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network.

Following her address, bestselling author and award-winning journalist Tanya Talaga will join us as a keynote speaker. Ms. Talaga is Anishinaabe from the Fort William First Nation. She is the author of Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death and Hard Truths in a Northern City and All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward and she has written about her search for a missing family member.   

SCO is also pleased to host Cecil Sveinson, a member of the Poplar River First Nation, who will deliver a keynote speech entitled: “This is Your Birthright: A Survivor’s Guide to Reconnecting to Culture and Ceremony.”

There will also be panel discussions and information sessions on a range of topics, including teachings from Elders and grandmothers, dealing with grief and loss, Dakota language, men’s traditional roles, aging out of the child welfare system, healing through dance, and two spirit Elder teachings.

Self-care is an important step in healing and caring for oneself. To promote the importance of self-care, there will be medicine doll making (a healing exercise), medicine bag making, painting, massage therapy, reiki, manicures and pedicures, reflexology, as well as beading workshops.

“Our first ever Survivors’ Healing Gathering was a highlight for SCO in 2023. It was an uplifting experience where people came together in a good way. I am looking forward to this year’s gathering as I know it will be a powerful experience,” concluded Grand Chief Daniels. “Reclaiming our cultural teachings and ways of being, our languages, and our community and family connections are all important steps on our healing journeys. Miigwech, pidamiye, and thank you to all attendees, our speakers and presenters, and to everyone who is working to make this gathering a success.”

There is no cost to attend the gathering, however, registration is full.

The event is led by SCO’s Pathways to Healing Program, which is offering other free events for Survivors. For more information about the upcoming events and the program, please visit our website.