How were The Warriors of the Red Road at Sea selected?

The application process for this youth leadership development program was rigorous. We wanted to ensure that the greatest fit of each Sail Trainee while representing the diversity of Indigenous young people in Canada. We were intentional in the amount of work required to apply: we were looking for those applicants who are committed to the experience and in so, willing and able to take on the requirements of submitting a full application.  And did they ever!

There were 8 components of this application process. They included:

  • An Application Form
  • A Personal Profile Video or Essay
  • Personal Adult Reference Form
  • Youth Reference Letter
  • Medical Release Form
  • Media Release Form
  • Current Resume
  • Current Head Shot in .jpeg format
  • *Parental / Guardian Consent Form (for those under 18)

We received applications from across Canada and the diversity was outstanding.  Regardless of being accepted – every submission was powerful and a reminder of how much strength, resiliency and hope there is for the future. There are a number who identified previous challenges they have faced, sadly, common challenges for many Indigenous young people: loss of family and friends, disconnection from culture, language and land, mental illness and/or challenges including anxiety, depression or substance abuse, feeling less than or not belonging, and experience racism and discrimination.  This said, each applicant shared how they overcame these challenges and become stronger leaders because, or in spite of them.

There is a great desire to connect and share their culture while learning about others. Most applicants expressed how they can share their own teachings while others suggested this experience would help increase their own knowledge, understanding and connection to their own culture.  There are many who are excited to bring their traditional knowledge, medicines, teachings, instruments and attire on board to share with others.

A high number of the Warriors have had experience with the water, including several who had been on sail and/or tall ships previously, many who had fished with their families and of the younger participants, several were active in the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets.  As well, several were involved with the Students on Ice program, having travelled at sea for a similar length of time as Msit No’Kmaq.

We read many similar strategies for self-care on the ship and how the proposed participants would prepare for the voyage: emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. What we learned by reviewing the applications will also now be incorporated into the final development of the leadership program – as many of the young people had excellent ideas about how to ensure they are able to stay healthy while at sea.

The videos and essays shared for the most part were very powerful: young people bravely sharing who they are and how they came to be in the space where they were ready for an adventure like Msit No’Kmaq: All My Relations.  They shared about the strength and challenges of family, the value of education and engagement, the links they had to their culture, language and land and at times, how the absence of these connections created personal and internal challenges that were overwhelming.  With each word shared by these Warriors, they demonstrate courage in action and made us confident that they would be a strong fit.

The adult references were powerful and we were grateful that most were honest both about the riches of the candidate but also limitations and potential challenges. The youth references were equally enlightening (and at times funny and cute) and refreshing to see how other young people saw these young leaders.

These 45 Warriors represent a strong diversity in lived experiences, background, geography, gender and age.  They make up a robust representation of Indigenous young people in Canada and together will build a strong community of leaders, (and sailors).

Much thanks to all applicants who demonstrated great courage in putting their names forward.  You presented the selection committee with a serious task and no one was reviewed lightly.  For that we thank you.

Come and meet the 45 Warriors of the Red Road at Sea!