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Nineteen years making friends from all over in a Teepee

In the winter months and usually on a Sunday, you can find Clarence and Barb Nepinak in a Teepee down at The Forks in Winnipeg. They've been doing it for 19 years. Just wander on in and someone will hand you a stick with some bannock dough on the end of it to roast over the fire. Just the way "the people" used to do it back in the day. 

They're an amiable married couple that I've known as long as I have been involved with Winnipeg's urban indigenous community. Their work heading the Summer Bear Dance Troupe took them to far places like Taiwan and Europe. 

Their daughter had a counter and I was number 332. I asked them if anything had changed from the first time they started setting up a teepee to share some bannock and stories. If they've made any good friends over that time. 

Nina Khani, originally from Iran, has been coming to the teepee at The Forks for three winters now. "It's really warm and cozy. I feel at home when I come here," said Khani. My parents are not from the city so when I come here I relate to it because my cousins, my uncles live in the country. So, it reminds me of my family and that?s why I come here." She feels right at home. 

Khani praised Clarence and Barb urging newcomers to check them out. "They are a really nice couple. Really warm and inviting," said a smiling Khani.

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