Feathers of Hope forums are compiled with many different components that create a constructive and interactive experience. Below is a breakdown of what most FOH forums include.
Overview of Feathers of Hope forum:
It is important to gather the young people on the first day to welcome and provide an introduction. This is important to lay the foundation for the forum, but also to create a safe and comfortable space. The welcome event also provides entertainment, introduces support staff while allowing the young people to mingle.
Home groups are designed to create a secure base for the young people with a consistent and small group of their peers. The home group structure is to have 8-12 participants per group, depending how large the forum attendance is. You mix the home groups up to be as diverse as possible (gender, age range, communities, etc.). These home groups allow young people to get to know each other a little more personally than they might in workshops or evening activities, receive support from a youth leader or ally, debrief about their day, and has the goal to design and share findings about the topic at hand into a presentation that they will deliver on the final day at the listening table. Home groups are formed at the very beginning of the forum. This first meeting is a chance for youth to introduce themselves to each other and their home group leader. After workshops, each group would meet and they would discuss their day, debrief workshops, and share any personal experiences or thoughts about the issues. Home groups can also be useful for organizing young people for additional activities (group participation games, cultural demonstrations or emergency check-ins).
During the forum, there are workshops where the participants have important discussions that lay the foundation of what issues and recommendations will be presented on the final day. These workshops (typically three or four different ones each forum) are a starting point with a variety of questions and activities to generate conversation. Each one has its own theme, but it’s important to let the young people have control of the discussion. Ex. while the theme of that workshop may be about topic A, if the young people talk about topic X, Y, and Z, then that’s what will be talked about. Depending on the forum structure, you can give the opportunity for young people to choose which workshops they desire or delegate where they attend.
Example of previous workshop themes:
- Health and Wellbeing
- Sports and Recreation
- Culture and Identity
- Systems of Care
On the third and final day of the forum, there is a listening table event where young people in their home groups present to a variety of dignitaries (police chiefs, police officers, ministers, deputy ministers, teachers, chiefs, executive directors of organizations, or a variety of leaders in different communities – first nation or urban). The presentations are made by each home group. They can all speak and share their message, or they could designate who they wanted to talk. It was open to the young people what they want to present and how they want to share it. Some styles could be through skits, poetry, spoken word, PowerPoint, videos, or generally just speaking through their heart. They share the message with the dignitaries, all participants of the forum, staff, and it also gets recorded as well for possible use in the Feathers of Hope documentaries attached to each specific forum. The presentations describe issues that they either face personally, within their family, their communities, or Indigenous people in general, share life experiences, as well as include their hopes, dreams, and recommendations for realistic, sustainable change.
After workshops, the young people can enjoy their time, relieve stress, try something different, learn a new skill, get to know other participants, a chance to engage in their culture, etc. with the fun workshops and evening activities. Each day of the forum, there are a variety of activities to engage whoever is attending. Fun workshops typically take place right after afternoon workshops or home group sessions, but before supper. Some of those workshops include: drum making, rattle making, beading, drum teachings, salsa dancing, k pop dancing, silk screening, scavenger hunt, and sports (soccer, lacrosse, road hockey, etc.).
After supper, there was evening activities to entertain anyone in attendance of the forum. Some of the social activities that we have held were having entertainment like musicians or comedians, a talent show, dances, star walk, as well as a big game that Right to Play puts on where there was stations all through the hotel with different games and activities. The purpose behind it was to give participants things to do in the evening, allow more socializing, and to lighten things up after serious, long days. It is crucial to involve play as much as possible in any event, to allow young people to be young people, and for anyone to enjoy themselves.
This is usually on the evening of the last day of the forum, before everyone travels back to their communities the next day. It is important to let the youth relieve some stress from the discussions and the listening table, but also to celebrate the hard work, strength, and courage of all the participants. Some of the topics that may have been discussed from the workshop and listening table may have been hard on some youth and having a positive outlet is important.
Facilitator – Facilitators help a group of people understand the common objectives that people have in discussions. The facilitator remains neutral.
Champion – Champions share their knowledge and experiences with young people for young people to utilize.
Home group leader – Home group leaders are designed to lead a group of young people throughout the forum by having organized meetings and other mechanisms to keep the group consistent
Wellness worker – a wellness worker is an experienced mental health support for young people when needed.
Elder – Elders are people who carry knowledge and experience that maintain the integrity of the work by providing advice when needed
Youth leaders (Amplifiers) – Youth leaders aka Youth amplifiers advocate and lead participants. Youth amplifiers help organize and facilitate events for youth.
Participants – Participants are young people who partake in any of the feathers of hope related events. The age range is usually between 14-29 years old and they typically reign from Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Grand Council Treaty #3, Robinson-Superior, or independent bands.