WIPCE 2017 comes to a bitter-sweet close

By Tepara Koti
WIPCE 2017 Closing Ceremony - Photo / Sui-Lan Ho'okano

The 2017 World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education in Toronto has come to an extraordinary close with a mass of indigenous cousins returning to their people and their homelands.

A great celebration of the six-day event was held in honour of the guests, speakers and hosts Six Nations Polytechnic and TAPS.

Avid WIPCE participant Sui-Lan Ho'okano says the week's experience was simply amazing.  

Sui-Lan, a native Hawaiian from Hilo who is also Puerto Rican, Taino, Indian, French, Africano and Chinese, says, "As indigenous peoples, we know our own struggles locally but to talk with others only reinforces what we already know."

The Cultural Program Manager for Enumclaw School District in Auburn says, "There is still much work to do and it must be collectively done with us universally, helping each other along the way."

"For those of us who have been able to reinstate our language and cultural educational programmes, we must support those who are still in the infancy stages of dismantling the governments and institutional systems that we all have been battling for years.

"The conversations we engage in at WIPCE are so rich and deep seeded with us indigenous hearts.  It's never enough time in the workshops and we want to keep the conversations flowing."

[Photo: Sui-Lan Ho'okano with two young Indigenous Aboriginal dancers]

One of the major highlights was seeing children attending says Sui-Lan.  "It is so uplifting to see them engaged.  Through them we will continue to move forward and re-establish our indigenous right in the education and government systems."

She says, "They are our future educators and leaders so having them attend these conferences is key to help them become a part of our movements early on."

Another highlight, Sui-Lan says, was connecting with an Aborigine sister, Kayla Bam from Australia.  "We just met and I am so grateful to have shared WIPCE alongside her."

She says the closing ceremony was a blast.  "After the conversations and issues we deal with, we need to laugh and dance as our collective winds and waters move forward."

WIPCE 2020 will be held in Adelaide, Australia, hosted by the South Australian Aboriginal Education and Training Consultative Council (SAAETCC) and Tauondi Aboriginal College.

[Photo credit: Sui-Lan Ho'okano]