The Culture and Wellness team, a branch of our Community Relations and Solidarity (CRS) department, is dedicated to creating spaces for youth to access programming that nurtures cultural connection and the concept of (w)holistic wellness. We believe that wellness is rooted in the sense of belonging and interconnection to all our relations, through finding ourselves within part of the greater whole. Our programming focuses on traditional knowledge, storytelling, land-based education, earth-working and arts-based workshops. We believe that these are the heartbeat and most vital elements for building confidence, a sense of healthy identity and strengthening community relationships. Our Culture & Wellness Program team:
- Offers responsive, nation-specific programming that values marginalized youth experiences and self-determination
- Provides the reclamation of traditional and creative learning spaces for youth who hold a variety of identities
- Empowers youth through relationship and capacity building programming
- Connects youth to Elders and Knowledge Sharers within their own community and across Turtle Island
We provide spaces for youth who hold a variety of identities to engage in cultural knowledge and knowledge sharing. Many of our programs focus on the importance of creating spaces for those who may not feel included in conventional programming environments for any number of reasons because we believe that everyone’s bundle carries significance. This is important because Indigenous traditional ways of knowing always focus on strengthening the whole community, and this can only be done when no one is left behind. Spaces designed with particular Indigenous youth needs in mind increase connection and engagement and allow us to support one another in more meaningful ways. In some situations, this may mean that this is the first time a participant feels seen, acknowledged and celebrated for who they really are.
Cultural Practices & Language Revitalization
Our In-Motion workshop series was developed to provide culturally specific spaces with a focus on reclamation and revitalization. All programs are facilitated online via zoom to promote a sense of community and connection through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seeds in Motion
Programming for youth aged 16-29, to learn together about culture, grow community and explore traditional crafting opportunities. Seeds in Motion focuses on teachings of plants, medicines, seed saving and harvesting, hunting practices, lunar cycles, and storytelling. This program was developed in response to the global pandemic for youth who were connected to the Children’s Aid Society/Foster Care system. The youth felt they needed a space where they could talk about identity challenges and cultural reconnection in a familiar space while also being able to connect to other youth across Turtle Island. Seeds in Motion is a direct result of this feedback.
Words in Motion
Programming for youth aged 16-29, to reconnect to their traditional languages in an online virtual format. Indigenous language revitalization is paramount to meaningful reconciliation and strengthens cultural connection. Language revitalization nurtures innate, deep Indigenous ways of knowing, embedded in the language itself. As a leading force to wellness and healthier communities, learners are able to draw associations to culture from their environment. Words in Motion provides young language speakers with the opportunity to facilitate an intro in their Indigenous language to their fellow youth peers, creating leadership skills, community building and interaction, and developing their capacity for peer mentorship. Youth participants come out of these workshops with the ability to introduce themselves in the language, where they are from, where they currently live and where their parents come from. Youth may also learn simple word associations to animals, colours and numbers.
Two-Spirit Cultural Revitalization and Wellness Programming
These programs were developed to provide culturally specific spaces for Two-Spirit youth to engage with traditional material culture through arts-based activities. Based on community feedback for more inclusive spaces to access culture, especially pertaining to ceremony and regalia for Two-Spirit and fluid identities, our programs arose from numerous focus groups and consultations with Two-Spirit community members from diverse identities and nationhoods throughout 2020-2021. All programs are currently being facilitated online via zoom to promote a sense of community and connection through the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Introduces youth to basic sewing and beading techniques via beginner-style activities. The techniques comprise the fundamentals of regalia making, allowing them to explore garment ideation and creative expression.
- Mobilizes peer-led, forward-thinking dialogue on Two-Spirit culture and history. This provides a space for Two-Spirit kin to explore the unique cultural roles and gifts of Two-Spirit people and engage in discussions about healthy spirituality and self-care.
- Strives to meet youth where they are at by providing them with:
- Free welcoming packages with all of the supplies and materials they need to participate
- Accessible spaces & learning environments for our neurodiverse & disabled kin
- How-to guides and one-on-one guidance during live sessions
- Mentorship from experienced regalia makers to expand upon their beginner-based skills
- Envisions a Two-Spirit, peer-mentorship environment that cultivates community capacity, guided by youth feedback and contribution. Our hope is to eventually have alumni participants as guest speakers and facilitators of this program.
Workshops for Two-Spirit and queer-Indigenous youth aged 18-29, living across Turtle Island to build cultural and social connections through zoom sessions that teach traditional skills, led by Two-Spirit facilitators and knowledge-sharers.
We designed an intentional space that explores Two Spirit culture and history from futurist, peer-led perspectives that celebrate the unique cultural roles and gifts of Two-Spirit people while focusing on healthy spirituality and self-care activities. In a Two Spirit-led environment structured around acceptance and lateral kindness, participants have the opportunity to complete guided, yet customizable short crafting projects in a live workshop setting. Each youth will be mailed a welcome package with materials and all needed supplies in order to participate. Constraints within virtual learning are considered by selecting flexible projects that nurture creativity and expression, rather than outcomes.
Pine Needle Basket Weaving Workshop
- Introduces youth to traditional weaving techniques using sustainably sourced pine needles. In 2021, we were honoured to have these workshops led by Two-Spirit Michif artist, educator and organizer, Sheri Osden Nault (they/them)
- Blends activity-based facilitation and cultural narratives by emphasizing ecological awareness, traditional protocols around harvesting pine, and connecting with nature in meaningful ways in our daily lives
- Nurtures a community of Indigenous & 2SLGBTQQIA+ kin who have common lived experiences of historical disconnection and shared social identity
- Provides instructional step-by-step videos to accommodate visual learners who may want to go at their own pace, accompanied by descriptive audio, and closed captioning