YCI is pleased to present our third Global Action Grant winner, Kanentakwas David. The Global Action Grant program was started for Canadian Youth interested in creating innovative solutions to youth issues in development. Read on as Kanentakwas answers some questions about who she is and how she will be using the $500 grant to fund the implementation of her micro-project to raise awareness about development issues in her community.
Q. Can you please give a short self-introduction of yourself?
A. My Names Kanentakwas ( Ga-Nuht-Da-Gwaz) means picking pines. I am from the Mohawk Territory of Akwesasne. I recently graduated from college and I am now studying at Carleton University and working at the Adolescent Treatment Centre on my reserve. As I have been involved in many youth related activities in the last few months, I have learned more about other Indigenous communities across Canada and have become more familiar with reconciliation and cultural identity.
Q. Please explain “What’s your issue” that you want to address with your grant and “what are you going to do about it”.
A. This past summer I went on a trip to Algonquin Park on a cultural exchange with an Algonquin elder and other trip goers. This trip was comprised of Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth from across Canada. I was oblivious to the many issues other first nation communities went through and how much non-Indigenous youth actually knew about Indigenous peoples within Canada. This brought me to brainstorm a way to help break down the walls between Indigenous – Indigenous and Indigenous – non-Indigenous peoples of Canada. Reconciliation is what I want to work on. I think it’s important that people of Canada are educated on the first peoples of Canada and that the first peoples of Canada learn about how not every Canadian citizen has a history that started in Canada but that it can be traced further back and farther away. I am going to organize a conference for youth of all different backgrounds that will help break down these barriers. Having a cultural exchange of the different teachings and histories with each other will prove to be very beneficial in achieving this goal.
Q. How does the project you’re implementing in Canada promote global community development awareness among Canadian youth? How does their project connect to a broader international development issue?
A. The goal of this youth conference is to share different cultures between Indigenous and non- Indigenous youth. There will be a speaker from the Anishnabek Nation who will help youth learn their teachings, as well as a speaker from Chippewa Nation who will teach youth their history and teachings. Having Non-indigenous youth attend is very important so that an exchange in culture can happen between the participants. By having speakers from outside the community we are helping to break through barriers with youth that don’t get the chance to travel and learn about the different nations and people around the community. This Conference will help develop a connection and a clearer understanding of youth within and outside of the community. Many problems between two different cultures begin with ignorance and not being educated about that group of people. By surrounding ourselves in a respectful cultural exchange we help people become aware of the peoples of Canada and contribute to development in the community itself.
Q. Tell us how YCI’s Global Action Grant is going to help you achieve/complete your project.
A. YCI’s grant will help me gather youth to a place where cultural exchanging will happen. This project will have the chance to bring teachers from other places within Canada to teach youth about the different cultures within this great country.