Impowering Indigenous Youth
by Lizz Brooks
After a more relaxing Summer, Indigenous Perspectives Society: Centre of Excellence in Community Education is jumping back into Fall! This year our Youth Circle – Kaia Hill, Nicole Geary, Christina Gosselin, and Lizz Brooks – has been collaborating on uplifting cultural connections and upcoming projects. With the warmer days now passing, we have the opportunity to reflect on the Youth Leadership Workshop Series, held for Indigenous youth who have experience in care, within British Columbia.
The Youth Leadership series consisted of IPS youth-led check in circles and three trainings: Conflict Transformation, Understanding and Healing Lateral Violence, and All My Relations: Supporting 2-Spirit and Queer Indigenous Youth. Through sharing these trainings and connecting with one another, our mission as the Youth Circle has been to empower Indigenous youth to develop a deeper connection and understanding of the world around them. Sharing frameworks and teachings has always been a large part of the work we do at IPS. But without the opportunity to connect, it can be difficult at times to truly understand the practice of using those frameworks.
Throughout the workshop series, our Youth Circle was able to guide check in circles between each training. These check ins provided a foundation for building connections and hearing the voices of the participants who were part of the series. There are many complex yet interconnected experiences when it comes to being Indigenous. Reclaiming, protecting, and discovering one’s identity are just a few threads that often overlap to varying degrees.
Who we are as Indigenous Peoples is so integral to how we walk through the world. Recognizing that we each have our own unique voice and gifts to contribute to the world is key to uplifting and empowering one another. This is even more important when working with youth.
During our check-in circles, we were able to learn a bit more about each of the participants’ gifts… whether their gifts were being avid story tellers with many life experiences to share or being calmly present and absorbing conversations and lessons. Some individuals were able to speak about their personal experiences, while others had questions and provided space for connection. Every individual holds many perspectives that can lead to validation and belonging, and it was a real honour to connect with each of them.
To the Indigenous Youth out there, know that your voice and experiences matter. Through guided connections, expanding knowledge and learning to embrace your gifts, each of you will continue to lead the way towards healing and empowering our peoples.