Ignite Your Spirit-2 was hosted at the Lake Cowichan Outdoor Education and Conference Centre, located on the beautiful traditional territory of the Lake Cowichan people, in August 2017.
The forum was organized and led by RCY’s Indigenous Youth Leadership Team, which created workshops on Rights and Advocacy, Culture and Identity, Aging Out of Care and Self-care and Wellness. Thirty-two Indigenous youth in care participated in the forum.
Decision-makers from Indigenous leadership and child- and youth-serving agencies were invited to be part of a witnessing circle, along with provincial government representatives and other key partners. The youth had the chance to share their experiences, hopes, dreams and recommendations for improvement to the child- and youth-serving system – the voices of those who experience the system firsthand. A witnessing circle in Indigenous culture is an honour and responsibility. The witnesses were tasked with not only listening but also sharing what they saw and heard and working to carry forward the youths’ ideas and actions.
A report on the forum – written by the Indigenous Youth Leadership Team – includes recommendations that focus on LISTEN – LEARN – ACT. In honouring the youth voices and experiences, the report was shared with participants and RCY partners who were invited to the forum.
The hope of the youth participants is that the words they shared will be used to create change in the system that doesn’t always take into consideration the lived experiences and day-to-day realities of Indigenous youth in care. Youth need to be given the space, time and support to be heard – they are the experts in their own lives. The Indigenous Youth Leadership Team and the youth participants from this forum truly believe that together, a child- and youth-serving system can be created that includes the hopes, dreams and wishes that continue to ignite spirits.