Make meaningful connections and don’t take yourself too seriously. Those are just some of the life and leadership tips Chief Cadmus Delorme of Cowessess First Nation offered hundreds of Regina high school and elementary students this week.
Delorme gave two presentations at Balfour Collegiate on Monday afternoon.
Through humour and storytelling, Delorme told students about how they can become better leaders in the future, but also what they can do now to help society move forward in reconciliation.
He told the students to pass on what they learn in class — about things like the history of residential schools and the Sixties Scoop — to adults.
“Youth today are going to be able to focus strictly on reconciliation, whereas us, as adults, we’re still kind of hung up on the truth,” Delorme explained after the presentations.
“There’s no mandatory Indigenous studies class coming to the older generations, so our youth are our teachers now. As adults, we must turn on our student minds to relearn.”
Jeremy Rope, a Balfour Grade 11 student who co-emceed the visit, said it was an honour to have Delorme speak at his school.
“He’s a big guy around here,” Rope said with a smile. “I have a lot of respect for him, so it was good to hear from him.”
Rope said his biggest takeaway from Delorme’s talk was to use humour to lift people up instead of to tear them down.
“In the Indigenous worldview, if people get a little bit frustrated or something, you could just tell a joke and make everybody happy again,” Rope explained.
“You don’t want to put people down — you want to use helium humour and make everybody laugh.”
Sharon Agecoutay, an elder in residence with Regina Public Schools, sat with a smile on her face for much of Delorme’s talk as the students — many of them non-Indigenous — learned about an Indigenous worldview.
“I think it’s so important for young people to want to learn about other cultures because we find that when we do that, we’re more similar than we are different,” she said.
“That’s what brings people together, and that’s what reconciliation is: two parties working collaboratively together to make the world a better place.”