Weechi-it-te-win focuses on life skills at event

By Robin McCormick
West End Correspondant

On February 28 and 29, Weechi-it-te-win Family Services(WFS) hosted the first annual Gikendamok Onowen (Things You Must Know) Youth Gathering at Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre. The two-day event, focusing on life-skills and traditional Anishinaabe Teachings, welcomed over 40 Youth from local First Nations between the ages of 13 to 26 years old.

The Gathering commenced with an opening by Elder Don Jones from Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation, followed by Spirit Name, Ceremonies, and Tobacco/Asema teachings by Elder Nancy Jones. The Youth then participated in a Tobacco Tie workshop before special presenter Shawna Grapentine took the stage. Shawna shared her artistic journey, including being chosen as one of four Indigenous artists to present hockey sticks at the 2023 Women’s International Hockey Championship. Shawna told the Youth to be proud and confident in who they are; to be patient and surround themselves with good, strong people and not to let set-backs bring them down.

Day one finished off with a presentation on Staying Safe in a Digital Age by Weechi-it-te-win staff member, Riley Pollard, followed by a guided snowshoe and ski through the trails.

Rainy River First Nations Chief, Marcel Medicine-Horton, opened day two with an inspiring speech to both Youth and staff who were in attendance followed by an informative Clan Teaching by Andrew Jourdain. WFS Director of Administration, Dean Wilson, captivated the audience with a budgeting workshop while sharing his life experiences and financial advice. Katie McCaig from NCDS then took the stage to discuss Career Development and the many resources that are available to Youth who entering the labour market. The Gathering continued to bring various learning opportunities to the Youth in attendance with additional workshops on Income Tax by Alpha Bookkeeping, Landlord and Tenant by Kaleb Firth of Northern Sky Solutions, and a presentation by Alana Stewart of Seven Generations Education Institute on all of the programs and supports that they offer.

In addition to the presentations, Youth were given the opportunity to participate in a Cedar Bath Ceremony with Laura Horton and Donna Anderson.

The Gathering concluded with a Food & Nutrition Workshop hosted by Gizhewaadiziwin Health Access Center which allowed Youth to make a variety of healthy “Power Bowls” to bring home to their families.