L.E.A.D.R.S. Mentorship Program Reflection

Mari mari (Mapuche greeting) Volunteering has been something I have prioritized throughout my life, and I am grateful to have been the first mentee for the L.E.A.D.R.S. Mentorship Program offered by Indigenous Perspectives Society. 

I am a 21-year-old who frequents Instagram, so when I came across a social media post shared by Lizz Brooks, who I already look to as a mentor, I was motivated to apply for this volunteer program immediately. As a Latinx person Indigenous to South America of the Mapuche and having lived on Wallmapu land, I experienced a disconnection to my culture while living in Victoria. It was when I began performing as a drag king that I found my community and my family among fellow Latinos and artists Indigenous to Nations across Canada. While I was born in Lekwungen territories, I lived and come from a family that endured hundreds of years of colonial violence in Chile and family who escaped one of the darkest times in recent history. Those stories and familial experiences have inspired and shaped me into the person I am today. I want to continually evolve my role and my work as an artist and settler on Lekwungen territories to enact decolonial practices, cultural mindfulness and develop skills in community engagement to further my goals in a way that feels right. My experience at Indigenous Perspectives Society through the L.E.A.D.R.S. Program has supported these goals and helped me grow. 

My experience at IPS has helped me develop my technical skills that will add to my career as an artist, producer and assistant but also has had a profound emotional effect on me. Coming into a healthy office environment each day has guided me through skills such as using data organization tools, the creation of brochures for promotion of the educational trainings provided by IPS and applying feedback from mentors in the Youth Circle to my work. Through researching and understanding the role and value the society has had on communities across B.C. and Canada for decades has deepened my knowledge on Indigenous history. I have had the opportunity to shadow people and observe the multiple roles at IPS and how they cohesively work toward the same goal of delivering education on Indigenous Cultural Perspectives and especially Indigenous Child and Family Services in accordance with the protocol of local nations. Throughout all of this I have felt confident, secure and excited to connect with peers, which is something I struggled with throughout my school due to my mental health struggles. Deepening my sense of autonomy through skill building and communicating with others has been something that has had a healing influence on me. 

My learning throughout my time at IPS has merged into how I show up and carry myself in my personal life and other workplaces. Being a performer cast in shows prioritizing BIPOC artists means we often share our experiences as racialized people to connect over our struggles and I want to educate myself as much as possible to build a brighter future for those of us affected by long term colonial structures. As an artist that has taken on more responsibility as a producer, I now feel better equipped to support fellow performers and I hope to keep myself curious, open to critique, learning and evolving like I have while volunteering for Indigenous Perspectives Society. My time at IPS has also inspired me professionally but it has also reminded me to commit to being open, loud and proud about my own Indigenous identity as a Mapuche person. 

I am deeply grateful and honoured to have been briefly welcomed to this organization that is doing good work and to have met and deepened my friendships with good people. Kürasia (thank you)