Oral history leaves lasting impression



1 October 2011


Clifford Smith Memorial Event

The large audience who attended the Clifford Smith Memorial Event at the Sechelt Indian Band (SIB) Hall on Saturday, Sept. 17, was enthralled by the oral history shared by Elder Theresa Jeffries. This was an intimate and powerful presentation entitled Keepers of the Culture: Women and Education.

Jeffries was the first student from the SIB to attend high school in the village of Sechelt. She persevered throughout her challenging life to further her own education, share her vast knowledge of oral history of Aboriginals, and be a leader in the formation of organizations and programs to help those Aboriginals moving into cities, including the Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii area, Vancouver and now the Sunshine Coast.

This event, co-hosted by the Capilano University Elder College - Sechelt campus and the SIB, was presented in an informal format as a conversation between Candace Campo, educator, artist and entrepreneur, and Jeffries.

Lenora Joe, director for the SIB education department, co-facilitated the event. Joe, who welcomed Linda Smith, widow of Clifford Smith, told the audience of her pleasurable experience of being mentored by Smith when she was elected as a school trustee. Smith was remembered as an educator who cared, and would often be seen sitting on the floor thoroughly engaged with a group of students.

Jeffries and Campo covered a vast number of contentious topics including residential schools, persecution of Native women through the Indian Act and ongoing discrimination both within Indian reservations and from the outside community.

Jeffries emphasized that only through the persistent struggles of “the strong women” did constructive changes slowly take place. Campo gave personal examples of similar struggles that her generation of women continues to have including participation in male-dominated sports and being supported in her education goals.

The 2011 Clifford Smith Memorial Event was a unique affair that reinforced the power of determined assertive Native women breaking down the doors of discrimination.



 
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