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Testing a new course for change

Testing a new course for change

The 4Rs Youth Movement has just had its first pilot training and it proved to be a transformative experience for everyone involved. I had the opportunity to join twenty-six diverse young change leaders from aboriginal and non-aboriginal backgrounds at the YMCA Cedar Glen Outdoor Center to test the new 4Rs cross-cultural dialogue curriculum. We spent three and a half-days immersed in hands-on and experiential learning to sharpen our skills in order to start meaningful conversations and support reconciliation initiatives in our own communities. One of the goals for the weekend was to create safe spaces where difficult conversations can be had; this enabled the group to explore what reconciliation looks like to each of us, what it means to be an ally and what our personal motivations were for joining the Movement. The most emotionally compelling experience for the me was the KAIROS “Blanket Exercise” workshop facilitated by the Canadian Roots Exchange Youth Leaders. Through this carefully guided exercise, participants learned about the historical relationship between Canada and aboriginal peoples, and how those relationships can change into a positive one through initiatives like 4Rs.

The small group setting led to many deeply meaningful conversations that involved all members of the group. One participant used his Swiss Army knife to illustrate how privilege can be used either as a weapon that harms people or as a tool to help others. Another participant pointed out how resistance can be as simple as identifying as who you are, be it as an Innu, Metis, Cree or a two-spirited person. In a different discussion, conversations around the role of non-aboriginal change leaders in the Movement highlighted the fact that allies also need role models to guide them in supporting reconciliation initiatives. At the end of the training weekend, the young change leaders said they felt deeply connected with one another, which renewed their drive to reshape the relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples in Canada.

Check out the photos from the training below: