This is what happens when the courage and vision of youth to do something never done before: host and teach Canadians in their homes and land during Reconciliation week-long trips: a member of the Royal family hears the call and stays overnight to applaud the youth leaders and their community.
Congratulations to everyone in KI for hosting an overnight Royal Visit in a remote fly-in community: you made history!!!
Inspired by the Reconciliation trips that youth leaders in K.I. organized in partnership with Productions Cazabon with the support of Chief & Council and funders, Sophie, Countess of Wessex - wife to Prince Edward spent 24 hrs. in their community during her Royal Visit in Canada. She brought along a group of prominent dignitaries as well as eight women leaders, all chaperoned by youth leaders and many who stayed in family's homes to experience the purpose of the reconciliation trips and the activities the community planned for them such as: treaty relations, connection to the land and water, education and honouring of elders and youth.
Productions Cazabon worked for the youth leaders and KI as the volunteer Events Coordinator for this portion of the trip and liaison to Office of the Lieutenant Governor. We committed 10 years of service to raising awareness with our film, 3rd World Canada as well as supporting initiatives within the community. This is year 8 of 10. The royal visit was a dream the community as expressed during year 2 of our work together (to connect with the Crown). What an honour it was to help make it happen! We express our gratitude to the Office of the Lt. Governor who made this visit possible and to every member of KI who rolled up their sleeves and took on this event and infused it with their spirit and love for their community. It was a roaring success!
The youth leaders of KI in partnership with Productions Cazabon are planning another reconciliation event inviting ordinary Canadians home: July 17 - 23, 2015.
Some of the guests of the royal visit included:
Her Royal Highness The Princess Edward, Countess of Wessex
The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, OC Lieutenant Governor Designate of Ontario
The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, MPP Premier of Ontario
Her Honour Ruth Ann Onley
Vicki Heyman, wife to the Embassador of The United States of America to Canada
(most) photos courtesy of Harvey Sainnawap
The Youth of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nations invited 50 Canadians ‘home’ on their remote reserve
The Youth iving in the remote Boreal forest of Northwestern Ontario invited "ordinary Canadian" into their homes in an all-inclusive trip to facilitate an honest dialogue on their living conditions, to share their pride in the beauty of their culture set in their pristine land on Big Trout Lake, and to make the invisible visible through an unforgettable act of friendship & reconciliation. More than anything, the youth want to create an opportunity to showcase their positive leadership and the spirit of their community to shine through. Together, and with you, they will show that there is still hope and Nation-to-Nation unity that awaits us all.
This project was made possible thanks to the generous contribution of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, community advocate Josh Hellyer, the Michaëlle Jean Foundation, Nipissing University and Productions Cazabon.
Check out the Toronto Star Article written about the event. Click here.
The 'June Event' that took place in KI in 2013 was a resounding success. Here's Faith Mckay describing in depth some of the events that took place.
They got to see our living conditions first hand, they slept in our rooms and ate at our tables. They felt comfortable enough to joke with us about some of the problems with our houses.
One of my guests was sitting in the living room at my parent’s house, and we only have three or four cupboard doors left so you can see everything. The guest pointed out that if we wanted to know if we had Ritz crackers, “you don’t even have to get up, just look in the kitchen!” My whole family burst out laughing, we’d never actually thought about it.
But our guest said we make the best with what we have. She was impressed that the community was so close. Even though a lot of the visit was about showing the guests some of the tougher parts about living in KI, there was time to show them the good parts too.
We showed them paths around the lake, one of KI’s most beautiful features. Some of them were brave enough to swim.
We celebrated our new friendship over a bonfire and introduced them to moose meat and bannock, eating and talking and laughing until late at night.
We created a wampum belt together, the guests beading rows alongside community members. It represents the bonds, friendships and solid projects that came out of the visit.
We staged a mock treaty signing to highlight the problematic nature of historical treaties, and to stimulate discussion.
These experiences had a lasting impact. Our guests are working on initiatives in “The South” to work on reconciliation, and in “The North” we’ve started projects like the one with St. Lawrence College to teach some of the youth how to build houses.
The June Event generated the Youth Leader’s interest starting in social venture tourism in the area, provided job opportunities, and has led to admissions interviews for several youth.
The Youth of KI are at the heart of the planning and implementation of all reconciliation events. They seek to revitalize their community by strengthening intergenerational ties and reaching out to Canadians whose experience with the North is limited. Here's Faith Mckay, a youth leader, describing the impact of the 2013 KI event :
When we started planning the June Event last year, as one of our youth leaders Justin Beardy said, we wanted our guests “to see our living conditions and the hope we still have.”
We got what we wanted and more.
When our guests first got off the plane they were strangers, by the first night they were friends, by the time they left, they felt like family.
Here are some of the other youth leaders describing the June Event.
I am inviting you into my community for a week for you to show you how beautiful my land is, in addition I'd like for you to try our traditional food and other useful things we get from the resources around our community. I believe this will get the word out that we are still living off the land, that we wouldn't know what to do without it. I think this will help with our future generations, to hopefully get our traditions to stay alive. As a youth myself, I'd really like to see my land used as my ancestors used it. Not everything is in perfect condition be we make it work.
'That life in the North can be hard but we still have hope.'
We are a poor people. Only few of us are fortunate enough to move from poverty to middle class. And with this, I am extending an invitation to Canadians to my home, so you may see; even with what little we have, we are still willing to share. I would like for you to see the beauty of our land and our culture. To see from your eyes and your hearts that we are rich. Not in the terms of money, but heritage
‘To see our living conditions - they’re is 6 of us in our 2 bedroom trailer.’
Well, I'm 15 years old I'll be 16 in the summer. One tough thing about living in KI is that at times, I feel trapped like there's no where else to go. I've experience a lot of stuff, but every summer I spend my birthday in the bush in Geraldton & do training for all sorts of activities. I've even went to aviation, I flew a plane above Thunder Bay for half an hour. Also, I've designed a yearbook for KI last year.
I'm inviting the Canadians because I want them to experience what it's like to live in an isolated community & the beautiful land we have here we call our home. I believe we can do this if we just put in the time and if we work as a community we can accomplish anything. It would probably make more youth come out and support this big event, maybe even show their talents.
Meekwun Anderson, Drummer
To me this is important for the youth a chance to show some people and others that youth can do more then just drink and do drugs...show ‘em we are capable of great things and we can come together to bring anything to life.
Darryl Sainnawap - Ontario First Nations People Council, KI youth rep
‘I want them to know what it’s like to live up here’
‘I would like to invite Canadians to our home for them to experience the land and culture that I am so proud of.’
I would like to invite you to my reserve KI. It's an opportunity to experience the way we live up north and how we survive. Come and see the beauty of the north that I have come to love and respect. I was born and raised in KI by my grandparents which is common among natives.
This will benefit the youth in KI because it will encourage them to want to do more for their community, for themselves and also to make important contacts to help them accomplish what ever it is they desire.
‘I don’t have a home in my own homeland’
I saw the video msg from the youth walkers addressed to us and it really inspired me to keep going and to see this project through. It was the motivation I needed to take this lead and finish what we started. Yes I would like very much for them to come and visit us in June because I know the youth of KI would be so excited and they can talk to the them give them a positive msg...after all they are role models.
Greetings from KI ! First of all, I'd like to extend an invitation to you to attend our June Event- Only in KI. In doing this, I hope we become great friends. I also would love for you to share in the experiences we share every day of our lives; whether they'd be good or bad ! Just like every community, we too have our own issues and concerns, but not only that. We have a deep connection with our people, our waters, and this God-given land we call home ! In showing this to you, I hope that you too open your eyes and see the reason why we fight so hard for our way of life. Meegwetch and I am looking forward to seeing you this summer, it'll be a blast!
An Invitation to Understand this Remote First Nations Community - Huffington Post
Remote First Nation Offers One-of-a-Kind 'Vacation' for Canadians - Globe and Mail
KI Youth Inspire Visitors with Love of Community, Land and Culture - Wasaya Travel Guide 2014
How we Build Relationships with Ontario's First Nations - Globe and Mail
Non-Aboriginal Canadians get set to Experience KI - Wawatay News
Canadian Rangers Impress Royal Visitor - Wawatay News
KI Visit Eye-Opening Experience - Wawatay News
On the Rez in Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug - Wawatay News
Film Shines Lights on Canada's Third World - Toronto Star
Youth Lead Way, KI Event - Wawatay News