By: Isaac Kavanaugh
Earlier this month I attended a conference dedicated to youth of treaty three dedicated to the importance of mentorship in college or university.
Six of us high school students from Whitefish Bay attended the Grand Council Treaty Three youth mentorship conference held in Fort Frances at the La Place Rendezvous Hotel on January 11 and 12.
One of the things that stuck out to me was a presentation by Dr. James Makokis from Saddle Lake First Nation. He introduced himself in his language which is Little Boy Drum (Anishanabe name). He talked about his Cree background and how the Ojibway and Cree culture and language are similar, just taught differently and how the language is said. He also talked about the Alberta Jasper Park mountains and how you can see the marks left from the Creator and the great Nana Boozhoo.
Uniquely, Carol Easton the Fort Frances Tribal Health Unit gave a presentation about sexual education. During the presentation they talked about how to get tested and how the Sexual Transmitted Infections (STIs) are all different, how they affect the body, and how to receive treatment.
The next presentation was about human trafficking and how this sexual exploitation is happening around us. Speaking about trauma and survivors, they explained how one can recover from such a monstrous act with the help of support workers and seeking help. They explained that the main spots for human trafficking takes place in Fort Frances ON and Thunder Bay ON.
They did a demonstration on how young girls get caught by the traffickers. To explain, she set up a profile of a little girl (aged thirteen plus) and within twenty minutes that profile she made as an example got 35 friend requests on Facebook from older men, she also said that traffickers will use language like “I can help pay your bills”.
On the final day, they asked us to write down our insights and how we felt. Asking what we would like to see at the next conferences, many of us across the different nations said language and culture. When asked to share from our table, many of my peers asked if I would speak but I told them that I cannot always be responsible for them but to speak for themselves – that they have their own voice and experiences.
Corban spoke of our table’s suggestions on the next conference locations including Kenora and Winnipeg. Baibombeh teacher Roland White spoke saying he was happy to see youth engage in wanting to see more native language. He also recommended that the next time youth be split up so that they can meet each other better.
Isaac Kavanaugh is a Grade 11 student at Baibombeh Anishinaabe School.