Cochrane welcomes oneness

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, September 8, 2022

Cochrane Rotarians and members of the Stoney Nakoda Nation held a tepee-raising and pipe ceremony at Cochrane Ranche on Sept. 1 in preparation for the launching of the Indigenous Centre project. Photo by Samantha Nickerson

The highly respected Elder of the Stoney Nakoda Nation at Morley (name withheld) noticed something strange as he finished his shopping in Cochrane recently, but he certainly never expected this.

Exiting a store in the Quarry, cane in hand, he was followed by about a dozen young teenagers who began making fun of him. As he limped to his car and climbed behind the wheel, the teenagers stood in a semi-circle around the hood and continued gesturing mockingly at him. None of this made any sense to him, for he himself was the personification of respectful behaviour toward all others, regardless of race.

As the Elder recounted his sad experience to me, I was deeply troubled. This is not the hospitable way Cochranites desire to be known for. What could have got into these kids?

Well, such disrespectful behaviour isn’t just a local problem. Just two weeks ago, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Christia Freeland was verbally assaulted as she was about to enter an elevator at the Grande Prairie city hall. Nation-wide, there has been a sharp increase in ideologically and racially motivated persecution against many identities.

And of special concern to members of Cochrane’s Baha’i Faith community, the recent intensification of Iran’s official persecution of Baha’is there is an international disgrace: denial of education, employment, personal freedom, and even the bulldozing of their homes, for no other reason than the faith of this famously peaceful people.

Such shameful attitudes and actions are showing up right here in Cochrane, too? The limping shopping mall Elder is not alone. Several other members of the Stoney Nakoda Nation have recently confided in me the rude treatment they, too, have experienced in big box stores and restaurants.

But yes, we are doing something about it – something radiant with hope. Our visionary coffee companion Michael Bopp puts it this way:

“The Rotary Club of Cochrane is working with an Indigenous Advisory Circle of Elders and knowledge holders from Stoney Nakoda, as well as an expanding circle of Indigenous people who live in Cochrane along with an additional circle of non-indigenous allies. The goal of this work is to establish an Indigenous Centre in the town of Cochrane.”

In preparation for its launching, a tepee-raising and pipe ceremony was held last week at Cochrane Ranche. This amazing project is already offering a beautiful new day when folks from Morley can feel truly welcome in our foothills town, and Cochranites can realize anew the core Stoney Nakoda value celebrated in the Centre’s name: Wazin Îchinabi Ti  (pronounced wah-ZHEEDN een-CHEE-NAH-bee TEE), “House of Oneness.”


© 2022 Warren Harbeck

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