This theme comprises film excerpts that give a voice to Aboriginal youth – young people who dream of leaving, confronted by the disappearance of traditional values and the difficulty of living in a world made by non-Aboriginals, and who are, sometimes, condemned to a tragic fate.
Aboriginal Youth Active in Their Communities
Information gathered by Christine Sioui Wawanoloath
Below is a small sampling of the many projects in which Aboriginal youth are involved:
The Arctic Indigenous Youth Alliance, Northwest Territories
The Arctic Indigenous Youth Alliance (AIYA) is a non-profit, grassroots youth organization in the Northwest Territories. It was formed in 2002 by two indigenous youth from Colville Lake and Fort McPherson, out of a concern for the type of development that was occurring in the North.The mandate of the Alliance is to advocate for the rights of the Indigenous Peoples of Denendeh and the Beaufort Delta by encouraging dialogue between youth and Elders, through raising awareness of the potential impacts of the proposed Mackenzie Gas Project.AIYA seeks to connect the vision of the youth with the wisdom of the Elders and to relate traditional knowledge and values to issues of development and globalization. The goals are to provide education and leadership development for Northern Indigenous youth and to empower them to engage decision makers in industry and government to make policies that will encourage sustainable development based on the traditional knowledge and customary practices of the Dene and Inuvialuit peoples.The Arctic Indigenous Youth Alliance promotes and addresses the need for responsible, sustainable forms of renewable energy and community-based employment.
“We gain our strength from each other, from the power of the land and from sharing our struggles with the world.”
The Native Youth Centre Project, Vancouver
The Native Youth Centre Project is being developed in Vancouver by the Urban Native Youth Association (UNYA). We envision a neighbourhood house-like facility that will help meet the social, educational, spiritual, recreational and artistic needs of the urban Native youth community. In developing the centre, UNYA will focus on prevention, fun, and personal development versus a crisis intervention model. We want to show youth that they are cared for, that they have the right to a safe and healthy environment, and that they can access resources, programs and services that will build their confidence, leadership and independence. Native youth will be directly involved in shaping their centre. http://www.nativeyouthcentre.ca/hirez/index.htm#
Youth Ensemble—Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company
The Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company’s Youth Ensemble was established in 2001 to provide opportunities for aspiring artists to develop their skills and to provide a meaningful service to the community. The Youth Ensemble is an integral part of the Healing Journey Through the Arts program, which uses culture and the arts to support young artists in their personal, social and career development. Youth Ensemble members share their knowledge, skills and expertise in all areas from acting and stage tech to script development and theatre administration. YE content and productions are based on themes and issues that are culturally relevant to youth and the community. YE productions are presented in communities throughout Saskatchewan. The Youth Ensemble motivates, heals, and inspires Aboriginal youth by serving as role models in each community they visit.The year 2005 marked the fifth anniversary of the Youth Ensemble that, through mentorship and workshop-based training, has grown into a skilled and talented group of performers and theatre technicians. SNTC employed past participants from each of its Circle of Voices programs from 1999 to 2003 as members of the Youth Ensemble. www.sntc.ca/YouthEnsemble/
United Against Racism, Aboriginal Youth Circle – Winnipeg, Manitoba
United Against Racism (UAR) is an Aboriginal-led grassroots project to develop an anti-racism action plan for Winnipeg. The youth voice of UAR is the Aboriginal Youth Circle, whose activities include speak-outs, forums, workshops and other events to combat racism. Providing educational materials is another focus of our work. We are presently producing an anti-racism video, a youth anti-racism training manual, newcomers’ guides, and Aboriginal awareness guides. http://unitedagainstracism.ca/index.php?action=ayc
Inuit Cultural Performers, Ottawa
The Inuit Cultural Performers are a group of Ottawa-based young Inuit who help promote and preserve Inuit culture through performance. Their repertoire includes throat singing, drum dancing, ayaya singing and Inuit games. http://www.inuitculturalperformers.com/
Aboriginal Youth Council of the National Association of Friendship Centres, Ottawa
The purpose of the Aboriginal Youth Council (AYC) is to create positive change for Friendship Centre youth by: improving communication, increasing training and development opportunities; encouraging youth involvement, both internally and externally to the Friendship Centre Movement; facilitating the development of youth leaders; providing awareness of issues facing urban Aboriginal youth; supporting the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical development of urban Aboriginal youth; involving youth at all levels of the Friendship Centre Movement; and preserving and promoting our culture and heritage.The AYC discusses and identifies youth priority issues, including stay-in-school programs; healing and wellness; suicide prevention; culture and heritage preservation; cross-cultural awareness; homelessness; youth leadership; employment and training; and youth involvement in the decision-making processes of the Movement. http://www.nafc-aboriginal.com/ayc.htm
Voix Autochtones (CKIA 88.3), Quebec City, Quebec
Broadcasting the Thoughts, Struggles and Hopes of the First Nations of the Three AmericasWe first dreamt of creating this radio program almost a year ago. Our dream was to respond to a crying need for a forum for First Nations people living in Quebec City, hence the name Voix Autochtones, or Aboriginal Voices. Through this program, we can see ourselves, announce our events, listen to our music, hear our news and find out about the struggles and hopes of the First Nations of the Americas. Although we also discuss culture, our primary focus is activism. The other facet of our mandate is to inform the broader Quebec community about our Native communities, so that they have an image other than what is conveyed by the mass media, and to share with them our thoughts on various subjects in the news. The program devotes about 30 minutes to music, always in an Aboriginal language. In this small way, we help strengthen our languages and regularly make wonderful musical discoveries. Interested? Tune in to the station on the far left end of the FM band, CKIA 88.3. Our program is broadcast live on Sundays at 7:00 pm and repeated on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm. You can also listen to the program on the station’s Web site, www.meduse.org/ckiafm, or use your RealPlayer or Windows Media audio software to go directly to http://stream.megaquebec.net/ckia.asx
Youth Program, Native Council of Prince Edward Island
The Native Youth Council of Prince Edward Island is a volunteer group who meet several times a year to discuss concerns, ideas and suggestions that would assist them in achieving their ultimate goal – unity among all Aboriginal youth on PEI.An area of great concern for the group was the need for stability, consistency and more support province-wide. Thus a Native Youth Council was elected that now totals 6 members, with an additional 2 junior members who have the opportunity to "shadow" council members to prepare for future leadership. Our Youth Board of Director now has a vote at the Board level, which is an important avenue for voicing our concerns. With the Native Youth Council structure in place we are able to keep in close contact with each other to ensure a solid foundation.http://www.ncpei.com/youth.html
Christine Sioui Wawanoloath
Born in Wendake (Quebec) in 1952, Christine Sioui Wawanoloath is Wendat (Huron) on her father’s side and Abenaki on her mother’s side. After studying photography, art, and history in Montreal and at Manitou College (1973), she worked as an offset photographer, darkroom technician, graphic artist, and journalist for Aboriginal publications in Ottawa, Frobisher Bay, and Val d’Or. In 1985, she became programs director for the Val d’Or Native Friendship Centre. As coordinator of the Quebec Native Women’s non-violence dossier from 1992 to 2002, she designed and developed awareness-raising and knowledge-sharing projects for members of Aboriginal communities. She is the author of La légende des oiseaux qui ne savaient plus voler (Quebec Native Women, 1995), Toloti (First Peoples’ Festival, 2003), Natanis (Le Loup de Gouttière, 2005), and three plays, two of which have been produced (Femme et esprit and Femme, homme et esprits).