Healing in Harmony partners with KNDT in Kehewin Cree Nation

Partners in Healing – A visit to Kehewin Cree Nation

In February, 2023, Make Music Matter founder and CEO Darcy Ataman spent time with Kehewin Native Dance Theatre in central Alberta to launch the ‘Naskwahamâtowin – Let’s all share in the music’ project. He shared the following insights with us upon his return.

For many years, Make Music Matter has wished to share its work with Indigenous populations at home in Canada. We believe our innovative Healing in Harmony music therapy program has the power to help correct the most egregious blight in our country’s history.

Healing in Harmony partner Kehewin Native Dance Theatre
MMM’s Darcy Ataman with Rosa John, Co-founder and Artistic Director at Kehewin Native Dance Theatre

We are thrilled to have announced two new partnerships in recent months to make this a reality. In Toronto, with Aboriginal Legal Services, we’re training local leaders on the Healing in Harmony model to help develop culturally-based healing methods for the urban Indigenous community. Secondly, in Kehewin Cree Nation, central Alberta, we’re working with Kehewin Native Dance Theatre and the National Music Centre to engage with vulnerable youth in an exciting new way and make mental health services more accessible.

I recently spent a week in Kehewin Cree Nation to launch our latest Healing in Harmony site. I am ashamed to say that I believed I was educated and empathic enough to understand the horrible plight of our Indigenous populations, but I fell victim to the adage of “you can hide in plain sight if you don’t want to see what’s in front of you.”

Communities, such as Kehewin Cree Nation, are still reeling from the effects of the residential school system. This has led to many types of trauma, particularly the destruction of traditional parenting practices. A few moments in particular put the shame of our past and present collective lives into perspective.

One school principal showed me a letter from the federal government, from 1959, to the local chief at the time. The letter detailed how many children he was to deliver to the school and what he would be provided with in return. Later, when one of my local hosts wanted to take me through the residential school he lived in when he was a boy, his body language and voice changed dramatically, even when pulling into the parking lot.

After spending time with the local community and its elders, it became starkly apparent to me that our historical footprint, coupled with the geographical isolation of these communities, has left us with an inescapable responsibility.

Healing in Harmony partners with KNDT in Kehewin Cree Nation

Meaningful change is not sustained through good intentions. Apathy will continue to grow and the divide will calcify and widen unless we act together to help break cycles of generational trauma. 

As we have witnessed in our work with over 12,000 trauma survivors around the world, the Healing in Harmony model brings sustainable and scalable change. It is helping to heal individual and collective trauma by illuminating the path to one’s own agency. Individual healing then leads to collective action.

Will you take action to help sustain our work in Kehewin Cree Nation and other communities like it until we are no longer needed?

I invite you to please consider making a donation today.

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