Well, first off, a big thanks to the Warriors for making our Blog the most interesting it’s ever been. We haven’t always been great at sharing our stories and the wonderful opportunities we have had but your story was so powerful that we simply had to ensure people across the country heard about, followed along and were as inspired as we were with each of your updates and photos.
I’m writing this as we all fly home and words won’t be able to describe the pride and love our whole team has for each one of you: The Warriors, Facilitators and Crew of the Gulden Leeuw. Watching you come off the Ship in Le Havre, having just completed a historic and once of a lifetime voyage across the Atlantic Ocean – it was breathtaking. We hope that with every challenge and obstacle you face in your life…you stop, take a deep breath and remember that moment of landing in France…and remind yourself: I can do it. I can overcome. I am a Warrior.
Now, I’m not naive. I know it was challenging, tiring and exhausting – in every way: mentally, physically, emotionally and I would guess, at times, spiritually. Yet I also know from listening to you share your feelings and watching you bravely take the stage in the closing dinner: that it was also life changing. Not only for you though…the young ones in your community, those smaller than you – as well as those around you…your friends, classmates, siblings and cousins – they too…all need to see this. They need to know that you took a (huge) risk and put yourself out there, shared and sweated and worked together in small space with 60+ strangers and that you not only survived – you thrived. You grew. You stood up and spoke out. Life changing for someone who’s watching you and what you have been able to do. Your actions, rooted in ceremony and bravery where you celebrated and honoured your ancestors and Indigenous roots – it mattered. It shows others what Indigenous young people are capable of and the strength, resilience and courage they show. Leaders, parents, teachers, adults, professionals: they will see all Indigenous youth through a different lens because of what you bravely did. Life changing. We witnessed what it means to people when on the flight from Paris to Toronto when the Air Canada Captain congratulated each one of you, including the Facilitators, for what you have accomplished and the entire plan erupted in applause. On this blog we often talk about young people being change makers – and you are. But you are also life changers. Of your own path and that of those around you, regardless of age. So for that, thank you.
As I edit this document I have had the chance to read some of your evaluations. The learning you have had and your and sharing it with us, all the partner organizations will help shape how we continue, individually and collectively, to work to create space for all young people to gather, build skills, capacity and confidence and cultural connections. Your experience will help strengthen the next groups (in whatever program, project or opportunity) experience. Thank you.
In 525,600 minutes from now it will have been a full year that has passed since the completion of your adventure across the Atlantic Ocean as part of Msit No’Kmaq All My Relations and you were honoured with the title of Warrior. We can’t help but think, looking back – what will you be thinking about? With each of the four passing seasons – what have you gained / thought about / seen the world as – and is it different because of your journey? We bet it will be. Your life and each new experience will be seen through a new perspective: pre-and post Msit No’Kmaq: All My Relations.
We hope you look back fondly with a smile, stay connected to what you have described as your new family, build on what you learned about yourself, culture and leadership and continue to take on the world. Because the world needs you. Warriors will guide Indigenous Peoples forward in the future, and you are all Warriors. And for that, we all love you. You matter. You are important. You belong. Period.
Msit No’Kmaq: All My Relations