Wazin Îchinabi Ti, ‘House of Oneness’
COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Autumn in Kananaskis Country models vision for House of Oneness. Photo by Warren Harbeck
There’s a new name in town, and I’ve been eager to tell you all about it. The name: Wazin Îchinabi Ti (pronounced wah-ZHEEDN een-chee-NAH-bee TEE), Stoney Nakoda for “House of Oneness.”
This is a community-building initiative that beautifully models my concluding statement in my Oct. 6 column on autumn in Kananaskis Country:
“What amazing wisdom for life’s journey!” I said. “Yes, the golden leaves were the incentive for the trip, but they were not the whole show. We were treated to a lesson more valuable than gold. The scenery was compelling because of the way it celebrated the beauty of diversity in harmony. The golden leaves didn’t try to make the evergreens gold, nor did the valley demand that the mountains come down to their level. Each accentuated the gifts of the other, and we were blessed.”
And that’s exactly what Cochrane’s new Indigenous Centre is all about. As Stoney Nakoda language and culture advocate and writer/columnist Trent Fox explains: Wazin Îchinabi is about all people being one together as a species, regardless of race or culture.
The Centre will be a place where Indigenous folks – especially from Morley – can feel at home in Cochrane. In fact, it is the result of extensive planning especially by Stoney Nakoda Elders working in cooperation with the Rotary Club of Cochrane and likeminded neighbours.
It’s very much in the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation. As the Centre’s Vision Statement puts it: The Centre is about Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Cochrane working together “to rebuild our society from the ground up by creating a platform of unity, collaboration, mutual respect and justice.”
It’s about reaching our full potential as a community, “for without the inclusion of Indigenous worldview, we are less than what we could be.”
Yes, what I hear the Indigenous Centre’s visionaries saying is that failure to include the wisdom of Stoney Nakoda Elders on what it means to be truly human would be like us saying to the golden leaves in Kananaskis Country, “Stay away! We’ll enjoy the beauty of autumn without you.”
My take on this is that our racial and cultural differences are to be embraced for the greater good of community. True, too often such differences have led to building walls. But the Centre’s vision is not about building walls, but bridges – indeed, life-affirming bridges over the troubled waters of willful ignorance, bigotry and self-interest. Would you really want to entrust your own wellbeing to a bridge in which the key building materials of steel and concrete were at such odds with one another that they refused even to be anywhere near each other?
At the Cochrane Town Council meeting on Oct. 24, Council will consider how they can stand behind this community-building initiative. I hope you agree with me that this is very important, and if so, please let Council know that you, too, are supportive of the vision for the Wazin Îchinabi Ti.
© 2022 Warren Harbeck