'A sense of home': The Comeback Society to expand Indigenous cultural programs in new space
A local non-profit is hoping a new office space can help reconnect Indigenous youth to their culture.
At the start of the month, The Comeback Society (TCS) moved into a space on the second floor of the building that houses the Regina Food Bank.
“I’ve been a mother and a podcast co-host, so I never in a million years expected to now be in a building and managing The Comeback Society as an agency,” said Alicia Morrow, TCS founder and chief visionary officer.
TCS started out as a podcast with Morrow and her sister Lexie. The two used the platform as a way to amplify Indigenous voices while discussing their experiences growing up as “urban Indigenous,” living in the city without access to their culture.
“I didn’t really know who I was and then I was brought back home and was adopted back into my community and I really started to build those ties,” Morrow said.
“I realized through the conversations with the podcast that I really wanted to do something more.”
The non-profit organization is the “something more” that Morrow was looking for. TCS offers cultural programs to Indigenous youth and adults in Regina. They host workshops in land-based education and traditional practices including hide tanning, ribbon skirt and regalia making, beading and powwow.
“I hope they take a sense of belonging in community and a sense of kinship that’s really been missing in our community, and a sense of home,” said TCS cultural collaborations director Chanel Daniels.
Before moving into the new space, TCS held programs in other community businesses in partnership with other organizations. The hope is to expand those programs into their building to create a safe space to learn.
“It’s going to be an open door for people to either find their identity or find their community that I didn’t have when I was younger,” said TCS executive director Pearl Daniels.
“That’s how they are going to find themselves with these programs offered through The Comeback Society.”
Daniels and her sister Chanel started volunteering with TCS a year ago. Now, both of the sisters are part of the team, helping run the agency that has a goal of being self-governed by 100 per cent Indigenous leadership.
“It’s important that we as Indigenous folks lead the way that we go forward from here, and that we lead in everything that we do,” Morrow said.
When Morrow started the podcast, she said the goal was to reach five people. Three years later, she said hundreds have accessed TCS workshops, and thousands have been fed under the organization’s food sovereignty programs.
Each week, TCS hosts Soup Bowl Sundays in partnership with the Regina Food Bank. Morrow said the group has provided more than 16,000 meals in the last year.
In an effort to make the food program 100 per cent sustainable, TCS harvests its own meat, including buffalo, and will soon grow its own fruits and vegetables in community gardens beginning this year.
“We really want to, as an Indigenous organization, implement the ways of our lives prior to colonization to really make this program sustainable,” Morrow said.
Alicia Morrow shows off her hand tattoos dedicated to The Comeback Society. (Allison Bamford / CTV News)
Morrow has her own comeback story. She suffered serious injuries from a car accident about four years ago.
Following the crash, she said she had a dream, which is what inspired TCS.
“I didn’t know what it meant and I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with it,” Morrow said.
“But I knew that coming back was something that meant I was in my own life coming back from the car accident, coming back as an Indigenous person and kind of re-learning.”
Morrow hopes she can inspire comeback stories in other Indigenous people’s lives through reconnecting with their culture.
“There’s nothing else I want to do in my life,” she said.
“We weren’t supposed to be here and for us to be here and in this capacity, that’s the beauty in it.”
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