Marcus Reid is a member of the Heiltsuk and Nisga’a First Nations. They are a graduate from the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology and are currently finishing their Bachelor of Arts at UBC in First Nations and Indigenous Studies. Marcus has a passion for social justice and policy with a focus on repairing the impacts of colonialism.
This year, Marcus returned to YPP as a facilitator. Having gone through the experience as a participant last year, they brought unique insight and wisdom into how they were able to support the #YPP2020 cohort. In this interview, Marcus reflects on what YPP has personally meant to them and why it was so important to return as a continuation of their own learning journey.
LEVEL: What made you decide to come back to YPP as a facilitator?
MR: I put my interest out there to Alejandra, the program manager at the end of YPP last year. I knew facilitating was something I wanted to get more experience in and so I just put my interest out there in the way that I wanted to continue with YPP. And then I got a call from Alejandra who asked me if I wanted to be a co-facilitator. And I screamed with joy! I was so happy! It was the easiest decision for me. From my new interest in policy, I pursued working in government but I wasn’t getting what I needed. I wasn’t applying the skills I gained in the way I wanted to. The biggest thing that made me decide was being able to continue my journey with YPP and being in a safe learning space about public policy.
LEVEL: What was your role as a facilitator?
MR: My role was to be there for all the modules in a way that supports the participants. That support looks like creating a type of container for a learning space that was co-created and holding space and guidance for check ins and outs each day. As well, guiding some conversations about where we’re at for learnings; gauging where different folks are at on their learning journeys. This ties into the backend work we did; taking in all the feedback we got and figure out what we can apply to ongoing modules and also for future cohorts. One different task that facilitators had as alumni was being able to give feedback to faculty right then and there, letting them know what our experience was and give insight into the current cohort. The way we could adapt when something came up was such a beautiful part of the role as a facilitator for YPP.
LEVEL: What did you bring from your experience as a participant to your role as a facilitator?
MR: One thing I felt as a participant learning about policy is that it was something I was scared to learn about and talk about. A large theme was imposter syndrome—not just for myself but so many folks feel like policy isn’t for them. I was able to bring my own experience of that and be able to recognize that in the participants. Going through the experience and then being a facilitator, I was able to hold my experience and bring it to this year which I think gave value to the participants.
LEVEL: Are there any notable memories you’d like to share?
MR: When folks would volunteer to do land acknowledgments, I saw people making personal connections. Some folks would offer land acknowledgments in their own languages, drawing their own personal connection with the larger principle of grounding in Indigenous worldviews. For me, seeing that was just so special. And then at the end, during the final presentations, it was such a special occasion because after all the work and effort and community building that went in, we were able to celebrate our advocacy, our own policy projects, and the time that we created together. That was a final moment for me where I thought: “Wow, this program really has beauty to it.”
LEVEL: What has the experience been like? Is there anything you’ll hold on to after this experience?
MR: What it was like to come back was very rewarding in the sense of getting to continue my journey with YPP in a different role. I get to make all of these new connections with the next cohort and to help foster what type of learning space that we want YPP to be. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the intentional details and planning. As we went over our monthly modules, it was the same thing in my cohort where we would be counting down the days until the next module and that transferred over to this year.
My biggest takeaway was seeing the community that we were able to foster together. Policy can be something that can be so cutthroat, singular, or individualistic and for me, it was so special to learn about policy while also building community and seeing how this goes hand in hand. The community that we fostered was really able to flourish because of all the efforts of the participants, facilitators, faculty, and LEVEL team. This will continue from all of our own efforts.
LEVEL: You’ve mentioned how important it was to continue your journey with YPP. Can you share why?
There are several reasons: the first one is that I’ve never been in a space that I could learn about public policy that reflected my communities; that was open, inclusive, and safe. A second reason was that the type of continual engagement the program offers for young people and those who get to continue their journey. It’s been important how genuine the program is.
LEVEL: Do you have any final words for the participants?
MR: I have so much gratitude and so much respect and honour to have been a part of the second cohort. I learned so much from each and every one of the participants, getting to see them go through the same experience I had while the program adapted. I’ve seen it improve and it’ll continue to adapt in new and good ways. I would encourage all the participants to stay involved and find ways to continue their work, not just their own projects but also supporting each other.