Uniting Youth for a Better Future
MFNERC’s Language Program hosted an Ojibway Youth Conference, October 17- 19. The gathering was modelled on the Turtle Lodge Youth Leadership Program—a land-based project centred around the seven sacred laws and eight paths of the medicine wheel.
The goals of the Turtle Lodge Youth Leadership Program are to:
• Encourage and guide youth to develop knowledge of and respect for their unique culture, heritage, and traditions
• Help increase youth self-esteem
• Encourage youth to express feelings
• Share ancient indigenous values and concepts that will lead to a balanced and healthy lifestyle
Participants from 12 of Manitoba’s First Nations gathered to share, teach, and take part in ceremony. Day one was spent at the beautiful Turtle Lodge located on Sagkeeng First Nation. David Courchene III held a storytelling session for everyone’s enjoyment. Following that, the youth tackled the creation of miniature teepees.
The second day all participants travelled to Whiteshell Provincial Park to visit the petroforms. The petroforms are a sacred place, useful for teaching and healing. Joined in a large circle, the young people listened to Dave Courchene talk about the significance of the petroforms as they relate to life and learning. Participants sang traditional songs and made offerings of tobacco ties.
On the last day, the attendees did a group painting and then shared their experiences of the conference. They finished the day by savouring a traditional feast.
Anthony Desjarlais was at the conference as a chaperone with two Grade 8 students. He shared experiences from his first year of teaching at Lake Manitoba School and described the positive influence MFNERC staff have had in his life. Specifically, Anthony first met and received guidance from Rudy Subedar, MFNERC’s Integrated Programs Manager, at the 2005 MFNERC Science Fair at Red River College. A Grade 12 student at the time, Anthony won the gold medal and went to the Canada-wide science fair.
Now Anthony passes on his knowledge and experience to the students he works with. He knows the value of attending culturally appropriate events, whether they be the MFNERC science fair or traditional gatherings like the Ojibway Youth Conference.