GREAT FALLS – Mary Lynne Billy-Old Coyote prepares to participate in an important conversation.
“First and foremost, that it’s showing at Great Falls is very important and I think that says a lot about the community; the fact that we care about racial equality and fairness.” Old Coyote said.
She is the Director of Innovation at the Indian Family Health Clinic in Great Falls and will be one of two moderators of the United Way of Cascade County and Great Falls YWCA’s Race, Equality, Equity & Inclusion workshop on January 19.
“For the IFHC, we are looking at the interdependence of a person. What that means with equality (is) how a person’s life is affected by transportation, housing, health, all those other things that really impact your life. That’s what we look at when we look at equality and hopefully that will be part of that discussion, ”said Old Coyote.
Alexander Temple Church in Christ Pastor Marcus Collins will be the other moderator.
“If we can be brave enough as a community to ask the tough questions, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll have all of the solutions, but it will start to spark thought,” Collins said.
This is not the first time that he and his church have participated in this kind of conversation.
“Right after the George Floyd incident, we had a citywide forum actually here at the church. Mayor Kelly was there, City Manager Greg Doyon, many city officials, the principal of the school, ”explained Collins. “So there was a great interest from people, citizens, all over town to be part of the conversation then. I’m just excited to see that there is still interest in the conversation.
For him, the workshop is bittersweet. Sweet because it happens, but bitter because of everything that had to happen to get there.
“I think we live in exciting times when, in today’s society, we are ready to question ourselves. We are ready to question our old systematic ways of thinking,” Collins said.
“Let’s have all kinds of diversity in this discussion. Let’s have all kinds of people coming in and sharing their ideas and thoughts because that’s how we create this as a community solution,” said Old Coyote.
As for the next step, Old Coyote said she hopes the workshops and discussion continue. For Collins, he sees more integrated training as the next step.
When: Wednesday January 19 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Site: Room B101, Great Falls College, 100 16th Avenue South
Registration fees: Goodwill donation of $ 10 or a tin can for the YWCA Great Falls Mercy Home
Registration deadline: End of the day, Sunday January 16
For more information, click here to visit Cascade County United Way website.