EVERYONE is prejudiced, by definition of the word because we would need to have full knowledge of a person and all surrounding circumstances in order to think of someone without prejudice. Omniscience.
Prejudice is a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience. Well, some experiences we have with people do lead us to think badly of them.
I bring up the concern of prejudice because, to my surprise, I have found through visiting with some of the Dakota people over these 13 years of newspaper work, that members of Canupawakpa and Sioux Valley have felt the sting of racist remarks, the turning away, having their change tossed at them abruptly when payment was made for goods or services.
Yes, I’m told that some of this happened just last week.
Fear, resentment, and disgust - and the feeling of being ‘better than them’ that arises from the first three attitudes - can change when we have a cup of coffee or share some other experience with someone.
The better we know someone, their circumstances, their past, the more likely we are to overcome feelings of fear or resentment toward them. Take, for instance classmates. There’s an interesting acceptance and pleasure at reconnecting with classmates, such as at the recent VCI 1971-72 Grad reunion.
One of the biggest concerns in our nation today is homelessness, violence, mental health and addictions. These are bedfellows. People feel estranged from others.
Over the past dozen or so years, the communities of Canupawakpa and Sioux Valley have been changing. A new generation of leaders is bringing a new way of life that includes education and employment opportunities.
Sioux Valley governance seems strong. Canupawakpa is growing in strength as well.
A couple of years ago SVDN struck a memorandum of understanding with the Sifton Fire Department to mutually help in times of emergencies. The Petro Can at the Griswold corner is the recipient of a business award this year.
Reservations seem to experience a disproportionate amount of violent crime. Because Sioux Valley is policed by Virden RCMP (at the request of a previous SVDN council), we see the strange, often petty aggressions where police are called to intervene.
However, some of the best people you will ever meet are members of Sioux Valley or Canupawakpa. SVDN governance includes a program for their leaders called, Lateral Kindness. “As Council, we require all our staff to take this two-day training session at some point. We have two gentlemen who come out from Winnipeg and teach it,” Councillor Tim Whitecloud said.
Belligerence, rudeness or hostility cannot live where kindness has become the guiding perspective. Council and community leaders will show the way for their community as these values are taught, and caught.