Letter from the Youth Amplifiers
Feathers of Hope: A First Nations Youth Action Plan, 2014
We are pleased to present Feathers of Hope: A First Nations Youth Action Plan. It reflects nineteen months of planning and work including a five youth forum in Thunder Bay, a three day youth gathering in Kashechewan/Ft. Albany, visits with youth in northern First Nations communities in Ontario, speaking engagements across the country, media interviews and more sleepless nights than we can count. Most importantly, these months of travel, discussion and listening sessions confirmed we are not alone in wanting to change the conditions of hopelessness and poverty faced by First Nations people in Northern Ontario.
When we applied to be Youth Amplifiers with the Office of the Provincial Advocate for children and Youth in Thunder By, we didn’t know what we were getting into. For some of us, it was a summer job. For others, it was an opportunity to work with young people in our communities. However, it became clear that what we were involved in was more than that. Feathers of Hope demonstrates the power and potential of youth leadership and a youth-centered focus in advocacy to confront the issues that directly affect young people’s lives. Its success is tied to young people working together to make change.
The Feathers of Hope forum process showed that partnerships that support safe space and respect, allow young people to speak powerfully and passionately about their determination to achieve change. This is, in essence, why this project is so important to us. First Nations youth deserve better than the lives of neglect and marginalization we have been forced to live due to the failure of government, First Nations leadership and consequently our communities to meet our most basic needs. Before attending Feathers of Hope Forum or participating in other community meetings we held, many youth did not understand why they felt the way they did or that they were entitled to speak about their feelings of pain, frustration or anger about their life situations. Feathers of Hope helped young people realize they could share their feelings and experiences, talk about their wants and needs, dreams and hopes for the future, and add their voices and energies to work with their communities, leadership and government to create real change.
We also went through personal transformations as we worked together. We are from different communities and not all First Nations people. We have different backgrounds, have learned in different ways, have different levels of education and life experiences, our hobbies are different – our lives are different. However, what brought us together is the fact we all agree there is a need for change. Feathers of Hope provided us with an opportunity to learn about each other and how to bring our skills and life experiences together to accomplish our goal-building hope within our communities.
Feathers of Hope is gathering strength and we thank our partners and allies who have worked with us. We would also like to give a special “thank you” to the young people who are Feathers of Hope. Our main goal was to create an action plan where their voices and experiences were at the centre. We hoped to have achieved this.
Uko Abara, Nicole Beardy-Meekis, Samantha Crowe, Kathryn Morris, Julaine Trudeau