Today launches National Youth Week in Canada and across the country there are youth and adult led activities celebrating and honouring young people. These events organized by municipal governments, organizations and community groups are critical in reaching the goal of helping youth know that they matter, are important and belong in their communities.
At Three Things we are celebrating the day by welcoming a team of 24 indigenous youth and their allies traveling from the Northwest Territories to Kingston and are grateful that so many organizations along with the City of Kingston have joined us in helping honour and celebrate the 40 youth bravely connecting cultures.
North & South: Connecting Youth Cultures is a youth-led community-building initiative made possible through extensive partnerships in Ontario between Three Things Consulting, KCHC Pathways to Education, Kingston Youth Strategy (Y2K), members of the Tydeninaga Mohawk Territory and YMCA Exchanges Canada, and in the Northwest Territories the SideDoor Youth Centre, (in Yellowknife), members of the Yellowknives First Nation communities of N’dilo and Dettah and the Inuvik Youth Centre with youth members of the Nihtat Gwich’in Council and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation.
By so many youth coming together – with the support of so many adult allies, organizations and governments, they are building more than life lasting friendships – they are building a new understanding of cultures and demonstrating to us adults how indigenous and non-indigenous people can learn, share and grow together.
As our volunteer community project for 2015 this has been a journey that we at Three Things Consulting have received as much as any of the young participants. We too have learned, shared and developed new relationships that we hope will allow us to work collaboratively with others for years to come and further the work of reconciliation between youth.
We want to acknowledge the amazing leadership and contribution of Kingston Community Health Centres Pathways To Education: without their ongoing support, commitment to youth connecting cultures and heart that everyone of their team brought to this process we would never have gotten to where we are today – ready to welcome our northern friends for an amazing week in Eastern Ontario.
The Y2K project involves municipal government, community organizations, businesses and individual residents who listen to young people, and hear their ideas and recommendations on how to create a youth friendly city. Their support has been crucial and we are grateful to them for hosting our National Youth Week Connecting Youth Cultures Dinner.
The SideDoor Youth Center in Yellowknife have been genourous and wonderful partners in this process. They were outstanding hosts to our team when we travelled north in March and this, like so many other projects they take on reminds us continually of the famous Margaret Mead quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” They are change makers and making Yellowknife and the NWT a better place for youth and young adults.
The YMCA Youth Exchanges Canada Program helped provide financial support and for that we are very grateful. Without their commitment to young Canadians connecting to one another and creating links throughout the country and among groups, this project would never have happened.
There are countless others who have helped us reach today – and we will be sure to thank them in various ways: the Grandmothers, the Elders, families and donors to our fundraising campaign, (which you can still help with by clicking here).
Yet the primary group we want to honour, in this blog and throughout this week of celebrations are the 40 young people who so courageously have taken on this endeavour. These youth – the members of Connecting Youth Cultures team from the north and south are role models. We have talked about the Seven Grandfathers Teachings with the group and we continually see them walk that talk and breathing life into the teachings. From these young people we’ve been witness to wisdom shared, with respect, honesty, truth and humility in a loving and brave way. To these young people we want to remind each of you:
You Are Important.
Much thanks to everyone who has helped us move this from an idea into action and as we patiently await the arrival of our friends tonight in Kingston keep us in your thoughts as we spend the next week building on what was started in the north.
And don’t forget you can celebrate youth in your own way this week: in person or via text, Facebook or Twitter share the 3 Things with a young person in your life, honour a youth you know by donating to one of these amazing organizations above allowing future opportunities such as this to take place or if you’re in Kingston today (May 1st) join us between 8:20 PM – 9:00 PM at 263 Weller as we welcome the youth from the north to our community!