- In the time of change of mother earth,
- there would be a group of young people born,
- and those young people would carry all the gifts of ancestors,
- the healers, the visionaries, the dreamers, the leaders,
- they would bring spirituality into their work
- and they would empower their work with that spirituality.
The above passage leads us into this video that documents the efforts by Native Child and Youth Family Services (NCYFS) of Toronto to connect urban youths with Ojibway, Cree, and Iroquois elders.
What has remained constant among the many changes of the Macaw Hawk Youth Council in Toronto is a desire among members to learn about cultural traditions.
Some of the Elders and staffers with NCYFS mention how difficult it was for them as urban Aboriginals to connect with their cultural teachings when living or growing up in Toronto. NCYFS has attempted to address this shortfall through the construction of a lodge in the heart of urban Toronto. Through the efforts of Elders and connections with culture, youth have described feeling more empowered and unified than at any point in their lives.
The prevalent theme among interviewed youths is a desire to “know who they are.” In urban settings, youth do not have the benefit community support from clans or families, and can become very isolated. Once youth connect with Elders, it is felt that they are better able to identify who they are as brothers, sisters, and beneficiaries of a rich ancestry.
The video provides an example of how far the urban Indigenous have come in re-connecting with traditions in a short period of time. One of the NCYFS staffers, Alita Sauve, mentions that when she was growing up it was difficult for her to acknowledge to others that she was Indian. Now she helps youth re-connect with authentic traditional practices in the heart of Toronto.