2008 – Wabun Youth Gathering Staged In Brunswick House First Nation

Brunswick House First Nation, Ontario – August 12 to 15, 2008

Brunswick House First Nation hosted the second annual Wabun Youth Workshop in the community during the week of August 12 to 15.  Event organizers titled the event with the theme ‘One Day Of Learning Is One Day Of Growth’ and the four day gathering centered on educational and recreational activities for Wabun youth from the ages of 9 to 16.

“We had a good turnout of youth from all of our communities to attend this year’s event.  This is the second annual event of this type to be run in our First Nations and after last year’s success in Mattagami First Nation we were even better prepared to make this an enjoyable event for our youth,” said Mike Archer, Regional Crisis Coordinator and Chair of the Youth Workshop Event Committee in Brunswick House FN.

The first annual Wabun Youth Workshop took place in Mattagami First Nation in August 2007.  Organizers at the first event had planned for up to 30 youth to participate but were met with an overwhelming participation of over 60 youth from all of Wabun’s communities including chaperones and visitors.

“We were looking to hosting about 30 to 40 youth this year but we were prepared for larger numbers.  We were better organized this year as our committee has taken the experience from our first event to help our volunteers prepare for yet another major gathering for our youth,” said Archer.

He headed the committee along with co-Chair Margaret Quakegesic and other volunteer members including: Douglas Redbreast, Beverly Perreault, Jennifer Wesley, Frances Wesley, Chris Venedam, Elenore Redbreast, Marjorie Tangie, Bonnie Saunders and Irene Redbreast.

The event was headlined by workshops for youth facilitated by D.J. ‘Eagle Bear’ Vanas, an Odawa First Nation person, who is a motivational speaker from the United States.  His presentations centered on talking to youth about the importance of education and in how to build their self esteem.  Youth also were able to take part in other educational workshops that centered on traditional teachings.  A special education session was provided by Mimi Tremblay, of Wahgoshig First Nation on an introduction to traditional trapping.  Other workshops included drum making, traditional arts and crafts, Native arts, outdoor native cooking and basic traditional skills of living on the land.  Local and visiting Elders were present to provide traditional teachings and story telling for youth.  Recreational activities were also organized.  Organizers held activities including softball, horseshoe throwing and swimming at nearby Bordon Lake.

Youth arrived from all of Wabun’s member communities along with chaperones and visitors.  They stayed at the Brunswick House First Nation Community Hall where all activities and events were centered.  The event was sponsored by Wabun Tribal Council and hosted by Brunswick House First Nation which made its facilities available to organizers.

D.J. Eagle Bear Vanas presented as a motivational and inspirational speaker and author.  He is originally from Muskegon, Michigan in the United States and he is of Odawa Indian and Dutch ancestry.  Vanas grew up in a travelling military family in the United States where they spent time in South and North Dakota and most of his early life in Biloxi, Mississippi.  In addition to his training and involvement in the US Air Force, he was active in his cultural roots and in the process earned the Native name of Mato Wambli (Eagle Bear).  In 1999, he established Native Discovery under the motto ‘to build the warriors of tomorrow … today’, where he provides motivational programs and seminars using traditional warrior concepts and wisdom to inspire others to become successful in school and at work.  In addition, he promotes and advocates Aboriginal education and issues through his membership and involvement in several major national and international Native and non-Native organizations.  As an author, he wrote ‘The Tiny Warrior: A Path To Personal Discovery And Achievement’ and as well he is a writer for the monthly newsletter Firelight and he continues to write for the national Native newspaper ‘News From Indian Country’.

“We were happy to see our second annual Wabun Youth Gathering held in Brunswick House First Nation.  The community was looking forward to hosting this major Wabun event that brought our youth together for educational workshops and an opportunity to have some fun with others from our member First Nations.  This was also an opportunity for us to celebrate our traditional and cultural roots with our youth and help them become healthy and proud members of their communities,” said Jean Lemieux, Health Director, Wabun Health Services.