Last month, 15 young people from across BC gathered for the first module of this year’s Youth Policy Program.
Over two days, we reflected and learned with one another and from policy and community leaders on topics like equity in their work and lives; key concepts related to public policy; and asset mapping. All of this is in support of the overall goal of the program, which is to learn what it means to do advocacy, systems change and policy work in unceded Indigenous territories. We also invited #YPP2019 alumni, Marcus Reid and Aida Mwanzia to return as co-facilitators to support this year’s cohort on their YPP journey.
Ta7talíya Michelle Nahanee joined us as our first faculty member with a giant board game she designed called Sínulhkay and Ladders. The game is grounded in Squamish ways of knowing to provide a framework for developing decolonizing practices.
Ginger Gosnell-Myers, of Nisga’a and Kwakwak’awakw heritage, shared her knowledge about urban Indigenous issues and how to shape public policy at different levels of government to advance the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She especially highlighted the importance of bringing the perspectives of First Nations and urban aboriginal people to make municipal services more effective for all.
Nathalie Lozano-Neira, from Muisca territory in Colombia, grounded her session by sharing her journey to these lands as a refugee 17 years ago. She talked about displacement and the ongoing impacts of colonization that affect her connection to her Indigenous ancestry and the responsibility she has to build right relations with Indigenous peoples from these lands.
Nathalie then facilitated a discussion to help participants identify individual and group skills, knowledge, and strengths they bring to the program. Each participant created a personal asset map of all the experiences and perspectives they offer and areas they want to further develop. This really highlighted that everyone has something to offer and has the ability to do advocacy and policy work.
Guided by Marcus, a member of the Heiltsuk and Nisga’a First Nations, the participants explored what equity means by identifying an issue affecting them and their communities to explore policy recommendations and consider other stakeholders who would also be affected by these issues.