On February 16, South Island Indigenous Authority hosted an Indigenous Youth Gathering at the Songhees Wellness Centre! 

One of our hopes with this gathering was to share about the work that South Island Nations and the Guest Community are doing to reassert jurisdiction over their children and families. At our Gathering, our team explained to those in attendance what ‘jurisdiction’ is, why it is important, and how it connects to the work SIIA is doing. Jurisdiction is an important term to understand as all of SIIA’s work is around supporting Nations and the Guest Community in reasserting their inherent jurisdiction to care for their children and families.  

We created opportunities throughout the morning for the youth to share their perspectives with us about how they define terms like ‘parent,’ ‘community,’ ‘and ‘family,’ so that we can ensure their voices are reflected within the new law we are drafting. We were inspired to hear them talk about other topics such as the role of culture in their lives, and how they think conflicts should be resolved. We want to ensure that we are centering our children and youth’s voices in the work we are doing as they are the reason we are doing this work in the first place.   We are grateful for all the local artists who came in to facilitate cultural activities for the youth while we asked them these questions. Youth were able to learn how to make medicine sprays, Cedar Paddles, beaded earrings, devil’s club jewelry, and cedar roses! 

In the afternoon, we had a live Q&A session with Snotty Nose Rez Kids. It was a great opportunity for the youth to be in a safe space to connect with one another and be inspired by Indigenous artists who look like them. We believe our youth deserve opportunities to meet, learn from, and share their hopes and dreams with their role models. 

We are so grateful to the Songhees Nation for letting us use their space for our event. We also raise our hands to all elders, singers, cooks and Camosun students that came to help make this day happen.  This event would not have been possible without your support!  

The hope of our team is that all those who attended our Youth Gathering came away knowing that they are so loved and sacred to their families, communities, elders and leadership.  We want all our young people to feel cared for in knowing that all the work being done right now is to protect them, to support them in maintaining strong connections to their own communities, and to ensure that they will never be forgotten.  

We truly hope everyone had a great time and hope to see community members of all ages out at our future events!