Shannen Koostachin’s battle for a better school for her community was highlighted during a leadership workshop at this year’s Seven Sacred Teachings conference.
“She started the largest child right’s movement in the country of Canada,” said Joyce Hunter, director of SEVEN Youth Media Network and one of the Director’s of Change leadership workshop presenters. “She was nominated for the Nobel Peace prize for taking an idea and making it a reality.”
Sachigo Lake’s Pelican Munroe enjoyed learning more about leadership during the Director’s of Change workshop, which was also presented by Jessica Edwards.
“The workshop was about ideas and things for our communities, things we can take back and use,” said the first-time participant at the annual conference. “The weekend was pretty interesting – I learned a lot from the sacred teachings and the workshops.”
Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Les Louttit said the annual conference provides youth from across NAN territory with an opportunity to discuss the issues affecting their lives.
“They come here and they realize they are not alone – it’s the same issues in all the communities,” Louttit said. “So it’s having a unifying effect with the result ... they are now involved in actually organizing the conference, they’re involved in setting up workshops and facilitating.”
More than 100 youth aged 12-29 from all across NAN territory attended the Seven Sacred Teachings conference, which was held Feb. 12-14 at the Best Western Nor’Wester Hotel and Conference Centre with an opening prayer by NAN Elder Bob Sutherland and opening comments from Grand Chief Stan Beardy, Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose, Louttit and Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs.
“It was really good,” said Jason Smallboy, NAN’s Oski-Machiitawin assistant and a conference organizers. “Everybody enjoyed themselves.”
Universal vote, residential schools discussed
In addition to the regular conference activities and workshops, the youth also attended a Feb. 12 concert featuring Shy-Anne Hovorka, Joey Stylez, Feenix and five Aboriginal Youth Tour 2010 winners, a Feb. 13 night out at the Famous Players Silver City movie theatre and a night lodge ceremony.
Conference workshops included Directors of Change, Photo Voice by Alice Sabourin, Respecting Each Other by Esther McKay, Seven Grandfather Teachings by Ronnie Beaver, Oral History/Teachings/Culture in Motion by Sutherland, Women Empowerment by Donna Orr, Healthy Lifestyles by Phyllis Shaugabay, Sweat Lodge Teachings by Conrad Iahtail, Drumming and Singing by Shaugabay, Climate Change and the Boreal North by Denise Golden, Tobacco Teachings by Laura Calmwind and VSP Tool by Carleton University.
Keynote speakers were Daniel Sakchekapo and Jessica Yee and special presentations were held on Motion 571 – Shannen’s Dream, Treaty Discussion Forum, NAN Universal Vote and History of Residential Schools.
“I learned a lot about the hand drum teachings and the sweat lodge and finding a balance is important,” said Paige Mawakeesic, a youth from Wawakapewin who has been to almost every Seven Sacred Teachings conference. “There’s always new people – it changes every year. It’s always interesting, especially to get the chance to do these ceremonies.”
Kyle Chapias, a youth from Ginoogaming, enjoyed the sweat lodge teachings.
“I was supposed to go to it today but I was in Drumming and Singing teachings,” Chapias said.
“I usually drum at the powwow and I usually dance, but I don’t know how to sing though. I want to learn how.”
Marissa Meekis, a first-time youth from Deer Lake, enjoyed the Photo Voice workshop.
“We added a lot of pictures on the (mural),” Meekis said.
Recently I have been watching news reports on how the left more socialist parties in our country and other parts of the world are being taken over by more...