Submitted by Felisha Crier Hosein
My name is Felisha Crier Hosein, the founder and president of the ‘Keep On Learning Foundation’, a non-profit organization created as a way to make a difference in the lives of First Nations’ people. My mother is from Maskwacis, Samson Band, and my father is Trinidadian. My siblings and I grew up in Trinidad, and moved to Alberta after high-school. I knew little of my mother’s culture growing up, and as time went on, I started to feel like a part of me was missing. A desire to learn more and be connected led me to take a Cree language class in my last year at the University of Alberta, in 2009. That summer I also worked on an archaeological dig, where we excavated a historical site. We found bones, buffalo skulls, pottery, arrow heads, and areas where cooking took place. This experience gave me great insight into what our ancestors lives would have looked like. During this time, I started looking into our history, and became overwhelmed with different emotions when I saw just how sad it was. I could see why people could become bitter or even hopeless, and it was at this time I decided that I wanted to make a difference.
A lot of thought and mental planning went into the creation of the foundation. I remember being in University when issues of Aboriginal people would present itself. I would remain silent and listen, feeling I had no way to address the issues because I was not connected. I wanted to understand and learn more. My confidence for being able to make a difference in the lives of our First Nations’ people came from looking not at what was ‘done’ to our people, but focusing on ‘who’ they were. My studies opened my eyes to see that our ancestors were strong, talented and resourceful people, who had a strong sense of community. They were hunters, using special techniques and handmade tools to take down an animal. They used the whole animal for food; clothing, shoes, traditional wear, and tools. They made homes, they could build a fire with their hands, and smoke and preserve meat for a later day. They played music, danced, singed and celebrated. They had medicine men and women that were knowledgeable with plants. They would trade with other tribes and people, and relied on each other for survival. They were connected to the land and to nature.
I believe that all the qualities that our ancestors possessed is in us today, and this is the message of the foundation to our people, especially the youth; you are strong, you are talented, and you are capable of doing great things; you just have to believe it. Our goal is also to encourage the youth to stay in school and get their education so they will be able to make a difference. We have motivational speakers, successful Aboriginal people that will be coming at the beginning and at the end of every semester to share their story and inspire the community.
Please like ‘Keep On Learning Foundation’ on Facebook!
Pictured: Felisha Crier Hosein with Robb Campree – former Edmonton Eskimo football player, business owner of several companies, President of Dreamspeakers Film Festival, as well as sitting on many boards. Photo submitted by Felisha Crier Hosein