Saimaniq Says: How Youth Voice Is Being Heard!

Good afternoon everyone! Long-time no post! Today I want to talk to you about how the recommendations from my very first project with Three Things Consulting, the Enhancing Indigenous Educations Through Co-Creation, have been implemented into the education system, and more specifically for my case, St. Lawrence College (SLC). In case you haven’t seen this powerful statement authored by young Indigenous People from that amazing gathering, here is a link to the Carriers of Youth Wisdom Declaration .

When I worked on this project, my first of many with my job at Three Things, I was 17, in high school and hadn’t worked before. Now, I am now 20, have just completed my first year at St. Lawrence College in Kingston in the Child and Youth Care (CYC) program, and I have worked on projects that have brought me to France, (with 45 Indigenous youth who I sailed the Atlantic Ocean with), back to Nunavut – where I’m from, for the first time since we moved south, and got to meet youth from all over Canada working at special events. 

I thought going into CYC would be a strong program to learn from to help me with my work here at Three Things. Throughout the school year, I took part in classes that had a strong emphasis on learning how to be a good active listener, how to use empathy effectively, and how learn how to become a good CYC practitioner. Being a CYC has many titles and roles in the field as they can go on to become a Councillor, Educational Assistants, Camp Councillor/Leaders, Youth Home Workers, and many other things that revolve around youth and how to help young people. I believe these skills will benefit me greatly in my life and work.

I had the opportunity to learn about different resources that were available for the students at SLC, and lo and behold I stumbled upon the Indigenous resource and support centre, the Eagle Learning Café. Though I don’t know how long the café has been operating, it was something that was mentioned in the Carriers of Youth Wisdom Declaration which was: a need for Indigenous youth to have access to a resource centre that can offer teachings and support to our youth. To me being a part of that terrific project, learning about the resources at SLC was a little heart-warming as it was something the youth who participated in the gathering wanted and needed to help them and others strive in their pursuit of education.

The Carriers of Youth Wisdom wanted us to have access to a cultural resource worker that could support the students who need assistance. At SLC there is such a person, the Eagle Learning Café’s Coordinator and Indigenous Student Advisor, Mary Ann Lyons. I find her to be an open person who you could easily walk up to and ask her something that you are concerned about whether that would be about school or regarding any assistance on information about opportunities that students could attend or be involved with. She cares about what the students’ concerns are and she does her best with providing any information or other resources as fast as she can which I find very helpful as it shows she cares and does her best to provide the help students need.

Carriers of Youth Wisdom

Regarding the implementation of a core-curriculum and mandatory cultural  knowledge training and history of indigenous people, I feel that hasn’t flourished as much as I would like to see and I think the Carriers of Youth Wisdom would want to see. At SLC there were no mandatory curriculum for the students; Indigenous and non-Indigenous to learn about these issues. There doesn’t seem to be a curriculum for all students regarding Indigenous history or knowledge of our cultures, and though it may be difficult to include this at college or university, I feel it should be included in high schools throughout Ontario and Canada. Though, I would like to see Colleges Ontario implement these recommendations from 2016.

Though there was no MANDATORY curriculum and other courses for all students, I was pleased to learn about the elective course that is run at Kingston’s SLC campus, Aboriginal and Diversity Studies, which provides some knowledge of indigenous history and cultural practices of certain indigenous groups. I decided to take part in that general education course because to me there is always   space to learn about Indigenous culture and history from many and all different groups. Though it was not a mandatory class for the students, I felt that I, and other students that took the course, benefited as we got to learn about different Indigenous practices and about inclusion of other backgrounds and cultures.

Finally, having people supporting Indigenous youth to participate in national gatherings/conferences is something that I believe happens as I began to attend more and more gatherings. I have noticed an increase of youth that are Indigenous, and to me that is extremely important. We need to hear the ideas and opinions of Indigenous youth from across the country to have a more holistic approach and understanding of what Indigenous youth want and need as our voices have been left out for so many years.

Carriers of Youth Wisdom Declaration

So, that’s my thoughts on how the Carriers of Youth Wisdom’s Declaration has been going. Although there has been some effort, to include a resource centre and a supervisor of some sort to help students and lead them in the right direction, there is still work needed to be done regarding the implementation of a curriculum that teaches all students about Indigenous history and the culture of the Indigenous ancestors that once took care of the area that schools and surrounding areas resided on.

Thanks again for reading, and feel free to contact me about any question you have about my post and if you have any interest about anything that we will be doing in the future!

Sincerely, Saimaniq