July 24th, 2024

Kainai youth ring in new year in Ottawa at cultural gathering

By Theodora MacLeod - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on January 17, 2024.

Submitted photo - Kainai youth participate in an activity as part of a web design session during the Soar into 2024 gathering in Ottawa at the end of December.

]A lucky group of young people from the Kainai Tribe got to ring in the New Year in Canada’s capital city as part of a gathering organized in collaboration between Kainai Children’s Services Corporation and Three Things Consulting. Soar into 2024 offered participants the opportunity to form connections, share in cultural activities, and discuss ways to uplift their community with guidance of the facilitators from Three Things Consulting.

The group of 20 young participants was selected out of approximately 60 applications. All between the ages of 14 and 17, the teens were interviewed and asked to introduce themselves and discuss their plans for their future upon leaving school before being selected.

Marcel Weasel Head, Blood Tribe Council member and Kainai Children’s Services Board Chair was among the several chaperones on the trip and said, “This collaboration was a great leadership opportunity for our Blood Tribe youth and the networking opportunities for other First Nations and Inuit youth in Canada was bonus. The Blood Tribe youth expanded their outlook and social capital nationally during this event.”

Jaimes Big Sorrel Horse is 16 and was among the teens who participated in the event, she says there were many highlights of the trip but the connections she made stand above the rest. “I really enjoyed meeting new people and it was interesting finding out they’re all from different places.”

The chaperones, elders, youth mentors, and youth who made the journey did so with the objective of enhancing leadership skills to better their community. “During our hopes, needs, and aspirations a lot of them (participants) were talking about helping our people with sobriety and having more people graduate from high school,” says Big Sorrel Horse.

The young travellers’ itinerary was packed with visits to government buildings, team building activities, and even an NHL game where they watched the Ottawa Senators defeat the Buffalo Sabres. But amongst the excitement were meaningful and impactful discussions “We were talking about our hopes, wants, needs, and aspirations for our nation,” says Big Sorrell Horse. “We smudged every morning, and we had a circle where we just talked.”

Floyd Big Head, a member of chief and council says “these gatherings are essential to Blood Tribe leadership for guidance and hearing directly from our youth for our future.”

Big Sorrell Horse says the gathering will have a lasting impact and she enjoyed learning about different initiatives from Indigenous communities, including land stewardship to approach climate change. “I felt pretty inspired from it.” She adds amused, “Someone told me I’d be a good grandmother because of how I grew in my culture and I’m active in it.”

Lucynda Russell-Rabbit, a generalist with Kainai Children’s Services, says the once-in-a-lifetime trip was enhanced by the people who participated. “Witnessing the youth cultivate their confidence and develop essential leadership skills while actively addressing the issues specific to Kainai was truly inspiring. The resilience and determination displayed by these young people and individuals not only instill hope for the but also fill me immense pride. The positive impact of their effort signals a promising trajectory for the community fuelled by the emerging generation’s commitment to growth and positive change.”

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