Purpose Of The Camping Trip
Each year for over twelve years, the Regional Multicultural Youth Council has dedicated one week out of the summer to attend and participate in cultural events at Pays Plat First Nation. The purpose of this annual camping trip is to help educate those who have never stepped foot on a reserve, and allow them to experience Indigenous culture. It also gives the youth council a chance to address many of the common stereotypes about reserves and Indigenous people. The knowledge that is aqcuired during this week is then be incorporated into the different programs and activities that are run by the RMYC. Therefore, this fun and insightful camping trip allows for more communication between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, and helps to mend these relationships and allow for reconcilliation.
Learning Circles at Pays Plat 2019
This year, the RMYC attended cultural week at Pays Plat First Nation from July 22nd - July 25th. The majority of this time was spent sitting in a circle and participating in traditions and learning about the Indigenous culture. Each morning usually started off with a sacred cultural tradition or ceremony such as smudging, and drumming. These traditions helped to create a very open and welcoming environment that allowed for insightful questions and conversations that followed a variety of topics surrounding residential schools, intergenerational truama, problems facing both Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth, the seven grandfather teachings, healing, and the four sacred medicines. Throughout these conversations we gained a more profound understanding about Indigenous culture, which allowed for a different perspective on life. One very important topic that came up multiple times throughout the week was healing. In these circles we learned different methods that Indigenous people have used in order to heal the wounds that stem from colonialism. Some examples include, fasting for four days while praying and reflecting, reconnecting with Indigenous culture and the environment, and through purifying rituals such as the sweat lodge and smudging. The information that tthe memebers of the RMYC learned within these circles is important to understand in order to be effective youth advocates.
Cultural Activities and Ceremonies
The RMYC took part in many activities and ceremonies, which has helped all members of the youth council to have a better understanding of Indigenous culture. This includes traditions and ceremonies such as...
Spirit name ceremonies
Life in Pays Plat
Throughout the week I was also able to sit down and talk to a few people that live on the reserve and ask questions about their own personal experiences that they have had as well as the amount of resources that are on the reserve. Through these conversations I found out many things about Pays Plat that counteract many of the stereotypes that one may hear about reserves. For example, there is a stereotype that reserves are filled with addictions, trauma, and a variety of mental health issues. However, even though these issues are seen on reserves just like any other community, there is an overwhelming amount of very positive things that happen too. In the example of Pays Plat, this may include the different programs that are run in the community hall for youth, children, and families. It also includes cultural traditions such as pow wows and listening to stories told by elders, and young kids actively and independently taking part in traditions such as smudging. This list includes only a few examples of the positive things that happen in Pays Plat First Nation reserve.
In conclusion, this annual camping trip is vital in order to achieve a more profound understanding of Indigenous traditions and culture, as well as what life is like living on a reserve. Through what we have learned this year, we will be able to break down the stereotypes and form a stronger bond between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and allow for reconciliation.
Regional Multicultural Youth Council