United First Nation Youth Summit
Our vision was two-fold:
(i) to raise awareness around all four pillars of sustainability – culture, social well-being, healthy economy and environment. We set out to achieve this vision by learning from Indigenous youth & across New Brunswick.
(ii) to unite Indigenous and non-Indigenous students through discussions centred on education, social justice, the environment and health & wellness.
As a school we strongly feel that relationship-building across cultures and providing youth a space to collaborate are both effective steps moving forward toward Reconciliation.
Fifteen First Nation communities across New Brunswick were invited to participate in the Youth Summit at our school. Each community or school was asked to select 2-5 youth delegates, each selecting one of Education, Environment, Social Justice or Health & Wellness as a committee to participate in once they arrived. To prepare for participation in their respective committee discussions, delegates were asked to arrive ready to share/discuss a topic of interest or concern pertaining to their committee topic and relevant to their respective communities. Riverview High students were also invited to participate in committee discussions, but as observers.
As part of the closing ceremony, students presented their summaries/calls-to-action, with the support of an Elder, to the greater group. The rest of our school participated as audience members at the opening and/or closing ceremonies. Some had the opportunity to join student-led workshops offered throughout the day as “Peripheral to the Summit” activities. Workshops included: The Secret Path, Indigenous Literature Circles, the Art of Comic-Making to share indigenous history, Paddle-making, We are all Treaty People presentations, and a locally produced documentary called Water Warriors.
Reflection & Celebration
What a wonderful day we had! Feedback was amazing. Students loved learning from each other and were so respectful of the diversity within committees.
One evaluation comment read: “The importance of this summit is not to be underestimated. We must continue this effort to bring youth together to share, problem-solve, listen and understand each other.”
Organizers (Project Citizen) were brought to tears while listening to calls-to-action and submissions at the closing ceremony and are already thinking of ways to improve for next year! Challenges will always be keeping to our schedule, budgeting and finding enough time to meet during limited team time and busy teaching schedules. To ensure the sustainability of this project we will see that a task force is put into place for next year and if not at our school, perhaps at another. It would be wonderful to see the summit continue annually and to be hosted in rotation by one of our four school districts.