To highlight the work Creation Grantees are doing in their communities, the Creation Community Grants Team sends out Q&A forms so they can share their experiences creating and carrying out their projects. Today we are featuring responses from Logan, Talitha, and Ray of the Inspiring Indigenous Youth Success Conference.
Community: Red Deer, Alberta
Q : Tell us about your group and project!
A : We formed in December 2021. Logan pitched the idea of having an Indigenous Youth Conference in our community to a number of dedicated individuals, and they all believed it was a great idea. We made it happen on a small budget of just under $4,000. Our group/planning committee is made up of a mix of people. All of us do amazing youth or Indigenous-related work. Logan volunteers with WeMatter as an Ambassador of Hope, Talitha is the Indigenous Students Coordinator at Red Deer Polytechnic (and has even begun teaching some social work classes), and Ray works as the Paranormal Investigator for the Red Deer Native Friendship Society. We have other non-youth members from the Red Deer Public and Catholic school districts who work as Indigenous student coordinators (they are a huge help with reaching the Indigenous Youth in the community). A non-youth member works for CARE For Newcomers, and they are a huge help with getting volunteers for the event, specifically new Canadians. It is wonderful having new Canadians help volunteer at the event because they learn so much about Indigenous history and culture and their own place in Canada as settlers. I am the group’s chair, and Talitha helped me to co-found the group. Everyone else has switched roles from last year except for me.
Q : As the youth running the project, what impact do you hope it will have?
A : These youth are about to make the transition to high school, and in past studies done by the school districts, this period is one where an overrepresentation of Indigenous youth do not make the transition. This means many Indigenous youth do not make the transition and simply drop out, more so than non-Indigenous youth making the same transition. Red Deer has a large population of people experiencing homelessness and addictions; Indigenous peoples are also overrepresented in this population. There are many organizations that want to help those already experiencing homelessness and addictions, and now, with our event, we are hoping to proactively reach youth before they need the help of those other organizations and services. This conference aims to mitigate this as much as possible and help urban Indigenous youth find the hope and the tools they need to complete their secondary schooling, and potentially aim for post-secondary education. After another year or two of this conference, we hope to compare current numbers of Indigenous youth successfully transitioning to high school with numbers from years prior to starting this event. After even more time, we’ll be able to compare the current number of Indigenous Youth graduating to the number in previous years, which will help us decide if the event is successful in its goals, or if we need to go back and figure out a way to continue supporting Indigenous Youth during their time in high school.
Q : What is something you have learned?
A : It seems hard at first, and you might not know where to start, so don’t shoulder it alone. Every community has dedicated people who are putting in the work to create a positive impact. Reach out to them, share your idea, form a group, and make it happen. Once you find those people in your community already doing the work, they will be able to lend you their knowledge and experience, and from there, everything seems to fall into place, and you will feel so fulfilled once it’s done.
“If there is something your community needs, a project that could create a positive impact for those in your community – believe that you can do it.”
Feedback from participants/other projects
Many participants felt it was a beautiful experience and felt grateful for the opportunity. Some of the youth used the teachings right away. We opened with a prayer from an Elder, but first we explained the importance of offering protocol and informed the youth they had everything they needed to make a tobacco tie inside their swag bags. At the end of the event, after the closing prayer and students began filing out, one youth approached the elder, offered their tobacco tie, and asked for advice on something they were dealing with. It was a beautiful moment to witness.
News stories about the event