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Animikii at the Canadian Roots Exchange Gathering 2020

February 21, 2020

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On February 21-24, 2020, Animikii Thunderbird Jen Polack attended the Canadian Roots Exchange Gathering on the traditional territories of Kanien’kehá:ka Nation or Tiohtià:ke also known as Montréal.

Canadian Roots Exchange’s Gatherings are facilitated by youth, for youth. Through their Gatherings, they build open spaces for sharing between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth. They encourage engagement in dialogue on the significance of solidarity and Reconciliation. They work to challenge negative stereotypes that divide our communities.

Jen provided a day-long workshop on Social Media for Social Enterprises for Indigenous youth and CRE communications staff.

We caught up with Jen on their return to see how the Gathering went, what their takeaways were, and what they found to be the most impactful part of the event.

Why did you decide to attend the event?

I am always going to take any opportunity I can get to talk directly with Indigenous youth who are changemakers and leaders in their communities. Fortunately, as a Thunderbird, my enthusiasm for these opportunities is not only matched but exceeded by my employers. 

How did you contribute to the event?

I travelled to Montreal for the Canadian Roots Exchange Gathering and offered a 1-day workshop - Social Media for Social Enterprises - that included a combination of discussions, presentations, and participation in a live Wet'suwet'en solidarity event to test knowledge that we learned earlier in the day on live event coverage, interviews, and live blogging.

What part of the event did you find the most impactful?

I will never forget when we decided as a group to attend the solidarity event and everyone promptly went upstairs (we were all staying in the same hotel) to grab banners, ribbon skirts, sashes, and beadwork. This was a wonderful experience because it proved that expressing solidarity doesn’t need to be verbal, but rather needs to come from a personal and sincere place. When I saw everyone come down all decked out in their solidarity gear, it really gave me hope for the next generation of Indigenous communicators. They are truly a force to be reckoned with!

Why do you think it’s important for Animikii to reach out in this kind of capacity?

We are only on this earth for a small amount of time. If we don’t support our youth in the short time we are here, then by extension, we are not supporting our future.

Which of the 7 Grandfather teachings was most expressed at the event?

Courage, because it takes a lot of Courage to express what you truly believe in and follow through. 

February 21, 2020

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