By Deena Goodrunning, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – In the heart of Edmonton just as the first breaths of autumn began to be exhaled from the trees, a beautiful and healing event took place. That beautiful event was the annual round dance hosted by Boyle Street Community Services. The round dance took place on September 15, 2023 and it was a healing and celebratory night filled with song and dance.
For those who may be unaware, Boyle Street Community Services is a charity with a mission of ending chronic homelessness in Edmonton. Their story first began in the 1960s when the Native Brotherhood Society decided to open the Boyle Street Information Centre to support the urban Indigenous population in Edmonton.
Then in 1971 founding members established Boyle Street Co-op, which would eventually become the Boyle Street Community Services we know today. Since it first opened BSCS has expanded to offer numerous services and supports to Edmontonians experiencing poverty or chronic homelessness. The services include assistance with registering for identification cards, opening bank accounts, finding housing and much more. BSCS serves over 10,000 community members in Edmonton.
Every year they host a Round Dance for the community at their downtown location on 105th Avenue. The round dance that happened this year was the last Round Dance happening at the 105th Avenue location.
As some people may already know, BSCS had announced that they would not be renewing their lease to stay at their 105th location for much longer and they stopped offering services on September 29th, 2023.
There are currently plans in place for BSCS to relocate their existing services to the King Thunderbird Centre (okimaw peyesew kamik) which is located just a few blocks away from their 105th Avenue location. However, okimaw peyesew kamik isn’t scheduled to open until Fall 2024.
So, for the meantime BSCS will offer their existing services out of various locations across Edmonton until okimaw peyesew kamik is ready to open.
The 105th Avenue location has been open for 27 years and for many people in Edmonton, BSCS’s 105th Avenue location has been their safe space for several years. Lots of happy memories have been made at the 105th location and the healing and happiness that BSCS has brought to many Edmontonians was reflected in this annual Round Dance. The night was a celebratory and healing one. Taking place in front of the 105th Avenue building that has been their home for so long, Boyle Streets Community Services hosted a beautiful event. Laughter, conversation and the sound of drum beats filled the air as community members joined their hands together in a sacred circle as they danced around the drum.
The world has changed greatly over the years. The trees have been replaced by glass buildings and the earth has been covered up by concrete and cement, but the round dance and the beauty and healing spirit of Indigenous peoples and culture is still here and will be here forever.
On their Facebook page, BSC wrote a post on September 22, 2023 about the Round Dance they hosted.
“With ideal weather, we gathered for an evening of food, celebration and ceremony,” they wrote. “As one of the first round dances of the season and our last one at this 27-year location, its significance was felt deeply. Thank you to everyone who attended.”