Waterways is an Indigenous-led non-profit based out of Winnipeg. We run land-based programming for Indigenous youth mainly surrounding canoeing. We are currently funded for a few projects by CRE. These include our Cross Lake, Bloodvein, and Peguis/Fisher Lake programs. We are also a trustee for Bison Local and run programs in conjunction with them for their "Back to the Water" Program.
Since February 2022, our CREation Community Grants Team has been sending out Q&A forms to CREation Grantees to capture their experiences creating and carrying out their projects. Today we are featuring responses from Mo Crossman-Serb of Waterways Recreation, an Indigenous-led non-profit based in what is currently Winnipeg, Manitoba. This organization supports community wellness by using canoeing and outdoor recreation to connect Indigenous youth to cultural skills and identities.
Communities: Winnipeg, Bloodvein First Nation, Cross Lake, Peguis First Nation, and Fisher River Cree Nation
Q : Tell us about your group and project!
A : Waterways is an Indigenous-led non-profit based out of Winnipeg. We run land-based programming for Indigenous youth mainly surrounding canoeing. We are currently funded for a few projects by CRE. These include our Cross Lake, Bloodvein, and Peguis/Fisher Lake programs. We are also a trustee for Bison Local and run programs in conjunction with them for their “Back to the Water” Program.
Q :As the youth running the project, what impact do you hope it will have?
A : My biggest hope is to see a positive influence on Indigenous youth’s health and wellness across the communities we work with. Seeing youth and families out on the water is an amazing sight – to see folks reclaiming their lands and waterways while receiving all the benefits that come with these activities. I hope to see our programs increase the capacity of individuals and communities so that in the future, there are grassroots, completely community-run programs getting youth, families, and communities out onto their lands and waterways.
Q :What is something you have learned?
On a personal note, I’ve learned I can put too much on my own plate. Over the last little bit, I’ve learned to take a step back and focus on my own wellness so I can in turn do a better job at running and facilitating programs. I’ve also learned the importance and demand of programs like this for youth. Our programs consistently have so many participants we can’t keep up.
Q : What is your favourite moment from running your project?
A : I have two moments. The first is from our partnered “Back to the Water” program with the Bison Local. Part of our program is destigmatizing the rivers in Manitoba from the common negative misconceptions. There was one Metis youth who fell in love with the river and would have their dad accompany them and their little sister for a swim almost every evening for the rest of summer.
The second is the success story in Cross Lake/Pimicikamak. This community has a lot of pride in the athletic successes of community members. This year, because of the paddling programs, we increased the kids’ canoe races from around 10 youth pre-covid to over 40 youth at this year’s events.
We are so proud of the heart-work our young relatives like Mo and the Waterways Recreation team are doing across Turtle Island and are so lucky to be able to support them in their work.
IYR is a registered charity that provides Indigenous youth led leadership, learning and experiences to every youth that participates in our programs. We provide programming, grants, and opportunities that are grounded in Indigenous ways of knowing and being.