By: Corban Crow
At the peer helpers program in Kenora, Oct 14 to 16, the Kenora’s Chief Advisory, brought youth from different communities to train and become peer helpers. I went with my friends Jordanson, West, Carter, and our driver/chaperone Daniel (Hoss) White. Health services chose us to go because we are team players and have a lot of friends. We had to ask what a peer helper was and when we found out we were all too excited to attend.
On the first day, we sat and listened to the opening prayers and ceremony. The positive energy at Seven Generations was a feeling to remember. The smell of smudge flooded the building and our senses.
Throughout the first day, facilitators embedded positive thoughts in our young minds. Allan White, a member of Naotkamegwanning, taught us about our clans. I remember him giving all of the youth the microphone and telling us to say our clan and where we’re from and him telling us stories about each of our clans. I was eager to learn about about my clan. My great grandfather, Albert Crow, is a member of the Moose Clan. My grandfather and father are also Moose Clan. I learned that we follow our father’s clan.
Another important teaching was given by Kate-Lynn Paypompee, also a member of Naotkamegwanning. My favorite part of her presentation was when she gathered volunteers to help her show us what she was talking about. She had five of us come up and grab strings. They were all attached to each other and each one represented something. The first one represented me, the second one represented family, the third one represented friends, the fourth one represented community, and the last one represented the work we do. Then she balanced an egg between all the strings.
After she talked about our job and what happens when you lose it, the person representing your job let go. Then she talked about community and what happens when you lose that, then the person holding the string representing community let go, and so on, until there were two left holding the string with the egg in the middle. The person representing family let go and the egg fell.
Afterward, we had a presentation with elders and adults about helping the communities. The most interesting thing about the first day was listening to the elders speak and learning about the feather teaching. The feather teaching was very interesting to me because the presenter had drawn an eagle feather and showed us her eagle feather. There was a rough part at the bottom and that part meant the learning stage.
The learning stage was learning how to walk, how to speak, and how to eat. In the middle of the feather, there were these sides where it was uncombed. That represented the mistakes you made and where it goes like if you broke into a house or hurt someone on purpose. Then the top of the feather represents where you are more mature and have a better understanding of life.
We had a mental health workshop for an hour. The workshop talked about diabetes and suicide. The diabetes worker explained that youth should be sleeping for 8 hours and adults for 9 hours. There was a suicide speaker, and she spoke about what causes suicide and how we can help stop it.
The icebreaker activities we had two times a day were my favorite part in the program because they were games to enjoy and all the youth had to participate. Some games were embarrassing, but the more we played them, we didn’t care if it was embarrassing. The program taught me a lot of valuable life lessons by listing to our elders and adults.