SIX NATIONS — Six Nations Youth Council (SNYC) will be surveying guests at the Indigenous People’s Day celebration in Ohsweken on Friday — looking for feedback on what the community’s youth want in their community leaders.
SNYC members Felecia White and Dean Hill spoke with TRT and said the council members are inviting youth in the community to have their voices and concerns heard during a roundtable discussion in the Dajoh Youth and Elders Centre in Ohsweken during Friday’s festivities.
“Our main questions right now are about leadership. Our first question is asking what their definition of leadership is — if they are seeing that — and if not what they want to see in our community for youth leadership. Do they want youth more in leadership do they want elders more? Rather than telling them what’s going to happen I want to ask them what they want to happen,” said Hill.
White says those youth interested in giving feedback can complete the surveys and bring them into the SNYC roundtable discussions inside Dajoh for more information. Completed surveys will also be entered into a draw for an iPad.
The SNYC is currently about 25 members ranging in age from 10 years old up to 29.
“We’re a grassroots organization providing a voice for our youth that helps navigate toward impacts that are happening in our community as well.” said White. “Our portfolios are based around the medicine wheel and then within those categories we break them down into four sections: Emotional looks at emotional regulation and mental health including LGBTQ matters; Intellectual, with education and knowledge; Spiritual includes language and culture and Physical looks at health and fitness with nutrition and the environment”.
White says the hope of the youth council is to expand and incorporate issues that all council members are passionate about with a focus on inclusivity.
Hill says the council members focus on advocacy for the subjects they are focused on. “We’re trying to figure out here what is most important to the youth down here right now and then cater to that and well slowly build onto each one of those aspects,” said Hill. “Right now we’re taking an advocate route where we’re taking in all the information that the youth are giving us and we can create a plan based off that information.”
“Our original plan was to be as inclusive as possible so that we can get other input to see what our youth wanted in a youth council so we can use that toward bettering our community,” said White.
To date the youth council has worked with the Community Plan team to assist in getting feedback from the young people for what kind of future they see for Six Nations as well as addressing current needs. They were also involved in planning and hosting the ReconciliACTION Anti-Racism Symposium in 2018.
Hill said he joined the youth council because of a passion for leading change in the areas of health and fitness. “We need healthier eating,” said Hill. “Various chronic diseases among our members like Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease is very rampant down here. I know to target those two things definitely starts with the way we eat down here and physical fitness in general to build a more healthy populace.”
White says mental health concerns in young people is what brought her out to advocate with the youth council.
“I recently did a documentary called not one more on youth suicide in our community and from there it really got an attachment with mental health supports and emotional regulation. I did presentations in school with my mom and health services that actually touched on the emotional regulation portion and helping youth identify their emotions before responding with them.”
White identifies as a member of the LBGTQIA community and said that it was her personal discovery of her identity that also led her to advocate for inclusivity at Six Nations.
“It’s not something I talked about with my friends. I realized that nobody among my friends wanted to talk about it, nobody wanted to discuss it, nobody even wanted to know about it. I wanted to find a way for me to feel comfortable — and then on top of that I wanted to find a way for our youth to feel comfortable because I have cousins, little siblings and little cousins and they have these same feelings but they don’t have a place to feel like they belong,” said White.“I wanted to be able to provide an outlet for our youth as well not just within my family but for our other youth to have that outlet for acceptance.”
SNYC will be at the Six Nations Indigenous People’s Day festival in Ohsweken at the Six Nations Fairgrounds on Friday. The event begins at noon. For more information on the group’s roundtable discussions or surveys you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the group Six Nations Youth Council – SNYC on Facebook.