The evening opened with Minister Cameron Fraser introducing the audience with a recognition of the territory where Knox Metropolitan United Church is situated.
“In terms of Treaty 4 Territory, particularly in the United Church of Canada we recognize that we have not had a history of walking well upon these lands and with the people,” said Fraser.
Before inviting the guest speaker to speak, Fraser continued:
“We recognize that our ancestors were involved in extinguishing the voices of Indigenous peoples through many ways and part of what we’re seeking to do is to bring some, just small, but putting events like this to bring those voices front and centre.”
The Knox Metropolitan United Church is located in downtown Regina and for the second year has brought an Indigenous guest speaker for the “Knox Talks” annual event.
Fraser shares with the audience that the previous Knox Talks was led by author and Professor Dr. Blair Stonechild in recognition of his book, “The Knowledge Seeker.”
At the second annual Knox Talks, Fraser explained to the audience that the church decided to invite podcaster and university teacher Wendy Lynn Lerat to speak on the topic of how climate change and Indigenous justice are interconnected.
“We are so glad that she is a part of this event and we are so glad that so many folks have come to listen,” said Fraser.
Lerat considers herself an educator and witness to the changing times. Lerat currently is an Indigenous studies sessional lecturer at the First Nations University of Canada during the week days and a podcaster during her free time. Lerat has led the “Changing The Narrative” podcast since September, featuring more than a dozen episodes that aim to help start the conversation on topics such as Indigenous justice, environmental rights and human rights involving recent podcasts on pipelines, climate change, treaties and Indigenous rights.
Throughout the evening Lerat spoke about her life experiences while working to shed light on Indigenous issues and environmental issues globally.
“What we really need is for people to recognize that the true stewards of the land and a lot of these areas, the Indigenous peoples of the world right now on their traditional territories they are holding about the remaining 80 percent of the biodiversity that is left on the planet,” Lerat said.
“So if we can get people to recognize that and to be able to see the connection. If we actually liberate the voices of Indigenous people in power and the voices of Indigenous people and give them that ability to once again be true stewards and to have a say in the land and how it is being used. “
Lerat also mentioned the reasoning for naming her podcast and the title of her presentation for the evening.
“This is something that as part of this narrative change that I believe we really need to draw attention that the Indigenous voice today has to be front and centre,” Lerat said.
Lerat also spoke about her visits to Unist’ot’en territory and the Dakota Access pipelines. The event concluded with a question period where attendees had the opportunity to ask Lerat questions.
Donna Nelson of Regina attended the event along with her two friends. She found out about the event through Facebook and having a connection with the church.
“The topic is critical and it’s the most important thing in the world right now,” said Nelson.
Nelson also had attended the previous year’s talk with Dr. Blair Stonechild.