From Survival to Thrival

From Survival to Thrival: Shared Historical Experiences was developed by Svetlana Pavlenko, Elaine Salkie and Anna Marie Sewell, with support from Naheyawin Indigenous Consultants, and funded by New Horizons for Seniors (Government of Canada) and Multiculturalism, Indigenous and Inclusion Grant Program (Government of Alberta). 

From Survival to Thrival invited participants from the Jewish and Indigenous communities of Edmonton to investigate the ways we live with our mutual histories of trauma, and move past them into thrival. All sessions were free of cost for participants, and included the option of enjoying the Centre’s delicious kosher lunch beforehand.

For this seminar series, we brought in guest presenters, one Indigenous and one Jewish per topic, to offer insights on 6 themes, at a meeting held the first Monday of the month at the Jewish Senior Citizen’s Centre. After the guests’ presentations, participants shared their reactions in a brief Talking Circle.

The 6 Themes:

Ghettoes and Reservations, with Gillian Horwitz (Jewish) and Lewis Cardinal (Indigenous)
Wannabe, with Dr. Kim Tallbear (Indigenous) and Dr. Morris Maduro (Jewish)
Living with Loss, with Dr. George Goldsand (Jewish) and Anna Marie Sewell (Indigenous)
Image and Reality, with Terry Lusty (Indigenous) and Elaine Salkie (Jewish)
Living in Two Worlds, with Abe Silverman (Jewish) and Naomi McIlwraith (Indigenous)
Food as Connection, online cooking demo, with Naomi McIlwraith (Indigenous) preparing Bannock and Elaine Salkie (Jewish) preparing Chopped Herring.

Hunter Cardinal, Naheyawin’s Director of Story, served as Facilitator for two of the six Presentation/Talking Circle gatherings.

Anna Marie Sewell, assisted by Elaine Salkie, facilitated the remaining four gatherings. Ms. Sewell also led five of the six Writing Workshops. Svetlana Pavlenko, our chief administrator, led one of the Writing Workshops. In addition, she led a two day workshop “Rediscover the Power of Your Life Story” that allows participants to re-visit and re-discover their past and present and to build stepping stones for their desired future.

Writing and Reflections:

The week following each presentation/talking circle, participants met for a writing workshop, in which to set down their further reflections on the previous week’s topic. Read More Here

The Leadership Team:
Dr. Svetlana Pavlenko, ED of Jewish Senior Citizen’s Centre
Elaine Salkie, Past President of Jewish Senior Citizen’s Centre
Anna Marie Sewell, Indigenous Writer
Dr. Orly Lael Netzer, Assistant Lecturer, Dept. of English and Film Studies, University of Alberta Naheyawin, Indigenous Consultants

Read More Here 

Learning Moments 
There were certainly gaps between our original plans and the ways or the project unfolded, mostly because we realized early on that both communities know very little about each other’s situated histories, traditions, and traumas, other than in extremely broad strokes. But despite, and perhaps because of the gaps in knowledge participants kept returning to lecture and reflection sessions; coming to learn, even if what you learn is how much you don’t know, and how challenging it might be to learn it well. Read More Here