Future leaders can build their resiliency and sense of identity through a new program.
The Omushkego Six Seasons Youth Program for young people aged 13 to 29 is launching in Timmins in September. It aims to pass the traditional and cultural land-based teachings to youngsters to strengthen their sense of identity and prepare them for a better life.
A year is divided into six seasons with two months per season, according to Omushkego. This classification is based on the traditional worldview and ways of the ancestors of the Mushkegowuk Cree.
"Our program is for urban youths within Timmins and the surrounding area. Because they don't necessarily get the opportunities that those in further north," said Christina Kioke, Six Seasons Youth Camp program manager.
The program also aims to eliminate the risk of suicide through traditional and cultural knowledge and practices.
"Our youth face a mental health crisis, not just Indigenous youth but youth everywhere. Indigenous youth have a high rate of suicide," she explained.
This program will have youth-elder storytelling sessions and the focus will change according to the season. For example, in the winter session, the teaching will be mostly regarding ice safety, traditional rabbit snaring, winter gill netting, and more.
Spring hunt, goose hunt, food security, spruce and birch sap harvest, food security, fishing, and gun safety are some of the overall topics the program will cover.
Kioke acknowledges the risk involved while delivering a land-based program.
"Safety is a huge thing when you take youth into land-based practices," she said. They will take measures like teaching CPR to combat these issues.
"Any person who really feels displaced from the community tends to struggle," said Kioke.
She expects people to get invaluable lessons through this program.
"It is my belief that our Indigenous youth will be successful future leaders in this modern world by building their resiliency and sense of identity through their traditional and cultural ways," she said.
Interested Omushkego youth or visiting on-reserve Omushkego youth can participate in this program.
Contact Kioke at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 705-268-3594 ext. 613 for more information.
Jinsh Rayaroth, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com