Indigenous leaders push for youth leadership within their communities

B.C. Cabinet and First Nations Leadership Gathering commenced in-person after two year hiatus

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By Seth Forward

Indigenous leaders say youth leadership is critical for communities to thrive, and they have plenty of ideas and programs in motion.

There were plenty of issues brought up at the B.C. Cabinet and First Nations Leadership Gathering at the Vancouver Convention Centre, but one of most crucial aspects to Indigenous leaders is building infrastructure and opportunities to keep youth engaged in their traditional land.

Essential to support Indigenous youth

Charlotte Rose, lawyer and in-house legal counsel for the Qwelmínte Secwépemc collective, said that Indigenous youth should be able to pursue their dreams in their own community. She said that it’s essential to support Indigenous youth to “move forward those interests, irrespective of whether they’re in law school, they’re doing their arts degree, psychology business, just really utilizing and honing those skills.”

Rose said she had to leave her home community to pursue her career, and she wants to change this for future generations.

“Speaking to my own experience, you have to move from community to be able to go to school, to go to work. And in thinking about building programs and… seeing and supporting Indigenous led program where youth can see themselves in,” Rose said.

Devin Doss, a Tmicw research assistant and former intern with the Qwelmínte Secwépemc collective, spoke of the important role his internship played in re-establishing his own roots.

“Now that I have been connected to the land, and my spirit has been called back to it, I’m not going anywhere, I’m staying here,” said Doss.

Needed government support

Rose said these crucial programs that have helped herself and Doss need to be backed by the B.C. government.

“When it comes to funding these sorts of programs, it needs to be effectively supported,” Rose said.

“I think that really speaks to the right for First Nations to have the right to self-determination as well, including what that looks like for retention for their youth,” Rose said.

Terry Webber, the elected councilor and clean energy director of Nuxalk Nation says that engaging youth in their home communities is one of the nation’s main priorities.

“I emphasize a lot to our to our young people to our youth that, that this is our home, there’s a lot of opportunity for us to take a lot of these bigger roles in the community,” said Webber.

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