2015 – Wabun Youth Gathering
Eco Resource Centre, Elk Lake, Ontario – July 13 to 24, 2015
The Wabun Youth Gathering celebrated its 9th year in the wilderness setting at the Eco Centre Lodge in Elk Lake from July 13 to 24. Dozens of Wabun youth attended the event which was sponsored by Wabun Tribal Council Health Services based in Timmins. Event coordinator was Faye Naveau of Wabun.
Nishnawbe-Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Harvey Yesno attended the gathering July 23 as guest speaker.
“I am happy that Wabun invited me to be at their youth gathering here today. If I have anything to offer here today, it is that each and every one of you, no matter what you are experiencing now or has happened to your past, look beyond the horizon and know that you can move ahead and do many wonderful things. Education is the key that will take you forward,” said Grand Chief Yesno.
Wabun leaders, Chief Walter Naveau of Mattagami FN, Chief Kevin Tangie of Brunswick House FN and Chief Marcia Brown Martel of Beaverhouse FN spoke to the Wabun Youth through their own personal stories and life experiences.
“No one knows where their path will take them, as young people, I encourage you to listen to those Elders and teachers who are providing you with traditional and cultural awareness. Take those tools and skills that they are passing on to you and use them to make good decisions for your future,” said Chief Naveau.
Chief Tangie spoke to the Wabun Youth about bringing back the spirit of community to all the Wabun First Nations.
“I remember as a boy that my grandmother was a big part of my life and the Elders in the community were very helpful to all of the children. We have drifted away from that sense of community and now with traditional teachings and culture, we are finding our way back. Things are getting better for our young people,” explained Chief Tangie.
Chief Brown-Martel was on hand for the duration of the gathering and worked closely with the youth as a chaperone.
The event was divided into two parts. The first week from July 13 to 17 was held for junior youth aged from eight to 12 and the second week from July 20 to 24 was for senior youth aged 13 to 18. The first week of events featured facilitators Craig Fox and his partner G’Wemin Migwans of Wikwemikong First Nation, traditional teachers and dancers who instructed the male and female youth on shield making, clay pottery and medicine pouches. They also led the junior youth in a mini Pow Wow. The Big Bear Claw Singers of Brunswick House First Nation performed at the junior week mini Pow Wow. Native story tellers Roger Jacklin and Lizz Brinootch of Magnetawan also entertained and educated the children.
The senior week featured a series of workshops by Running Thunder Native Traditional dancers and teachers from Edmonton, Alberta. The performers included group leader Adrian Lachance, dancers Marcus Pahtayken, Waniya Cardinal and Danielle Bird as well as their group Elder Russel Ouauger. Medicine Man and healer Ralph King of Rama First Nation led medicine walks for both the junior and senior groups.
The senior group Pow Wow was led by the White Stone Cree Singers of Timmins which included singers Nathan Naveau and Mark Carpenter. They were also supported by Male Dancer George Rose and the Four Eagle Whistle Women Singers of Timmins which included Sarah Rodrique, Shaylan Sutherland, April Atlookan, Holly Buffalo-Rodrique and Sharley Rodrique.
Jeremy Naveau, an 18 year old member of Brunswick House FN, pointed out that one of the best things about the gathering was the opportunity to renew friendships with other youth from the Wabun territory.
“Every year I find I learn more about Native traditions and culture and that helps me with my life in the choices I make. I enjoyed the skits and role playing,” commented Jeremy Naveau.
Elders Vina Hendrix, of Matachewan FN and Morris Naveau of Mattagami FN, assisted Wabun Youth and led opening and closing prayers.
Wabun Health Director Jean Lemieux congratulated Wabun Youth for making the ninth annual gathering a reality.
“I want to point out that this gathering is about helping our youth make good choices I look at all the young people here today and I want them to know that they are our leaders of tomorrow. We want them to take our jobs and fill our shoes and keep the circle strong. I offer up my thanks to NAN Grand Chief Harvey Yesno, the Chiefs of Wabun, our Elders, our Executive Director Shawn Batise and to our event coordinator Faye Naveau, Crisis Team Coordinator for making this year’s event a success,” said Lemieux.
Wabun Tribal Council is a regional territorial organization which represents the six First Nation communities of Beaverhouse, Brunswick House, Chapleau Ojibwe, Flying Post, Matachewan and Mattagami in Northeastern Ontario and it is directed by its respective Chiefs.