Indigenous Youth from across Ontario gather at Polytech

Celina Hill and Clarice King, both of Six Nations, participated in the Indigenous Youth Engagement Forum at Polytech this weekend.

This weekend the Six Nations community hosted the Chiefs of Ontario’s Indigenous Youth Engagement Forum, a leadership conference for Ongwehon:we youth.

This was part of a series of conferences bringing together youth from all of Ontario’s Ojibwe, Oji-Cree and Haudenosaune First Nations to discuss youth perspectives on indigenous identity. Research following the conferences is used to help form and carry out what COO calls the Indigenous Youth Engagement Bundle, a framework that seeks to empower youth with both an authentic sense of their indigenous identity and a voice on matters relating to that identity. The Bundle also helps to establish youth councils at each of the First Nations communities across the province, including one soon to be formed here at Six Nations.

This weekend carried a special focus on Haudenosaune tradition and teachings. Elders Norma General and Rick Hill were present to help facilitate the conversations and to share teachings with the youth. Also present was Annishnabe elder Phyllis Shaugabay, who brought ceremonies and teachings on midwinter.

The Two Row Times Youth Contributor Celina Hill was one of the weekend’s keynote speakers. When asked how she felt about the conference Hill shared, “I felt really empowered. Sharing what our traditions are towards all the nations, and seeing what their traditions are toward us, was really great as well.”

Cindy Martin, Turtle Clan of the Cayuga Nation was one of the weekend’s presenters and said, “This is a historic moment for our youth because it is a time for unity and healing between our nations. It is symbolic of the tree of peace unifying with the medicine wheel to help our people heal. This is the first generation of youth that is going to touch and motivate our people to work together.”

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