Read About Don



By Victor Kaiser.  March 6, 2017 via News at

Photo via Lance Cardinal.  

People in Calling Lake were treated to a performance from Don Burnstick last week, part of the PAHPOWIN day of laughter and healing.  

Pahpowin is laughter in Cree and close to 450 people were in attendance for the community dinner on March 1.

Lance Cardinal, Fine Arts Coordinator of the MD of Opportunity, said staff felt Don Burnstick’s energy and ideas was something they wanted to bring to their community of Calling Lake.

"The initiative was to bring the community together through laughter and comedy; a time for us to have fun, and laugh, and heal," Cardinal said.

"For Aboriginal People, one of the best ways for us to heal is laughter."

Personal and Professional Development

Lance Cardinal noted that staff in Calling Lake thought having a whole day of laughter and healing would be a good idea. 

On March 1, MD staff undertook some personal and professional development with Don Burnstick, while he also spoke to kids at Calling Lake School about sex, drugs and alcohol.

"He’s a certified community healer and counselor and he himself got into trouble as a youth. He became a drug dealer and was expelled from his community by the band; and sort of hit rock bottom," Lance Cardinal added.

"But he then turned his life around and he really wanted to share that message with kids, that the choices you make when you’re young can really affect your life and that you can make positive choices."

For the Don Burnstick performance, Lance Cardinal says people travelled from all over - from Slave Lake, Wabasca, and Athabasca to name a few communities.

He noted it’s important to remember that First Nations people always have a way to heal themselves, if they’re given the right tools.

"The only way we’re going to become united as a nation - as multiple nations - is when we start to make positive choices as a team, as a group and as a community," Cardinal said.

"We have a lot of lateral violence - things that happen within our nation; lots of jealously and violence towards our own people, which we’re battling, as well as battling outside influences."

"Don Burnstick reminded us again that these battles don’t need to happen here, that we can work together and become stronger," added Lance Cardinal.

Learning Experience

Cardinal is hoping that more events like this will help people from outside of Calling Lake understand the community and culture.

"I think it’s time we celebrate each other’s cultures - both aboriginal and non aboriginal - and understand each other a little bit more," he noted.

"People from outside Calling Lake, I feel it’s important that they come down and visit us, come be a part of our events, but it goes both ways, " Cardinal concluded. 

"I feel like people from Calling Lake should also spend time in communities that are not primarily aboriginal to bridge that gap that might exist between us and become stronger together."

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"I haven't laughed this hard in years!"