The Urban Indigenous Youth for Change hosted a youth event as part of the Shingwauk Gathering and Conference this weekend. The event consisted of drop in events embracing Indigenous culture, such as beading, mural painting, braiding, medicine bag making, a sacred fire, and a scavenger hunt.
Urban Indigenous Youth For Change Project Coordinator Lauren Doxtater said that the turnout was good, but she was surprised at how many participants were older as opposed to the youth.
“I guess one of the things that’s surprising me the most about this past weekend is it was really well attended Saturday – I think the attendees might have been cut by half on Sunday – but it was really well-attended,” she said. “What surprised me the most was that a lot of the adults and past survivors that attended here ended up participating the most. So, for example, I know at the corn husk doll making workshop, there was only about seven youth who attended that throughout the whole day, and the rest were old survivors and adults.”
“It still creates that partnership between the survivors and the elders and the older people to connect with the younger people – so it created a good environment,” added Cheryl Jamieson, Vice President of the Shingwauk Anishnaabe Student Association
Doxtater said she thinks gatherings like this are a good way to connect Elders with the youth.
“So what UIYFC does in the community is that we try to promote linking youth and elders together so that they can have that cross-dialog about things that matter, introduce them to teachings that elders carry through conversation and making. It also provides experiential learning opportunities for youth, and some of our facilitators here, I’m really proud to say that almost all of our workshops that we offered this weekend were led by youth, so that develops their skills and leadership.”
In addition to inspiring youth, the event also provided an opportunity for inter-generational learning. “That connection between the older and the younger generations helps going forward,” said Jamieson.
Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association President Jay Jones, whose mother and uncle were both residential school survivors, said this year’s gathering was special because it coincided with the Reclaiming Shingwauk exhibit launched at Algoma University.
Jones described the gathering as “an annual event where the residential school survivors come back together to heal, tell stories and share laughs.”
He also holds very personal ties to Shingwauk and the impacts of the residential schooling system.
“My mother is an Indian Residential School survivor, right here from Shingwauk. She and her friends, other students that she went to school with, started an organization, loosely, 40 years ago. And they’ve been working at it for 40 years. And what it is is just to create the awareness of the Indian residential school system, the impacts it had on people, on families, inter-generational trauma, and their goal is to fulfill Shingwauk’s vision, and that is the teaching wigwam where Native and non-Native walk together, learn from each other, and grow together even more so than by themselves. And with this new unveiling of this area right here, Reclaiming Shingwauk Hall, it’s come to fruition, and this is the first step – there’s going to be four or five more steps.”
Jones said he thinks that shedding light on the residential school system is a good step in reconciliation because it’s teaching people the truth.
“Part of the reconciliation is truth and reconciliation. And I believe that you have to know the truth before you can reconcile. And this is definitely showing the truth and telling the truth – there’s many stories.”