Members of Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation gathered for a smudge walk on Wednesday morning, to promote unity and compassion in the community.

As part of the fifth annual event, groups walked from all four directions, and met at the crossroads in the centre of the community. There, they joined in prayer and sang traditional songs.

Students from several nearby schools took part in the walk, which aims to heal the community in a positive way.

“We want to move forward with our nation (and) address that we will no longer put up with the negativity of drugs and alcohol on our nation,” said Roberta Soo-Oyewaste, chief of Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation. “We want our youth to have a healthy nation to be proud of.”

Organizers of the event also emphasized the need to pass on their culture to the youth in attendance.

“The younger generation - my generation - we're coming up fast, and I think (we) need to know about all of the stuff that they talked about today: the unity ride, the walk, just everything,” said Wakpa Mckay, student president at Bert Fox Community School.

Soo-Oyewaste said she is optimistic positive improvements in the community are possible, even though they may not be immediate.

“Our changes will be small, and we accept it if it's small changes. But it also starts with the leadership,” said Soo-Oyewaste. “If the kids see it, if they are on board, they feel healthier and they feel better about themselves.”