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Elders inspire youth

Friday July 25, 2014
Rick Garrick/Wawatay News

The Blue Sky Community Healing Centre hosted a variety of events since opening last year, including this gathering in June.

Elders and youth have been sharing cultural values and learning from each other at the Blue Sky Community Healing Centre’s Inspire Elders to Inspire Youth project.

“We try to share with the youth about the legends, storytelling, drum teachings and sweat lodge teachings,” said Leo Ishabid, Blue Sky Community Healing Centre board member and one of the facilitators for the Inspire Elders to Inspire Youth project. “(It’s been) very positive — they keep coming back. We have some youth who come in on a regular basis.”

The 3,600-square-foot healing centre opened in October 2013 and has been hosting the Inspire Elders to Inspire Youth project ever since.

“We’ve initiated the youth-Elders gathering here at the Blue Sky Community Healing Centre to provide an opportunity for the youth and the Elders to get together in a way that is very inclusive and in a way that both groups can share cultural values and discuss new directions and provide a positive environment for the youth to learn from the Elders and vice versa,” said Scott Kyle, another Blue Sky Community Healing Centre board member and program facilitator. “It’s going well — we’re getting more and more response all the time. There are a variety of activities here, anything from arts and crafts to storytelling and even teachings around the drum.”

Cindy Crowe, the Blue Sky Community Healing Centre’s lodge keeper and community coordinator, was impressed with how a recent group of students enjoyed being around the drum.

“Those young people just loved sitting at the big drum,” Crowe said. “They were each able to hold the drum stick and learn how to tap on the drum.”

Nathan Fortier, a youth originally from Regina, Saskatchewan who moved to Thunder Bay about five months ago, enjoys attending as many circles and other events at the healing centre as possible.

“They are very educational,” Fortier said, noting he used to visit the healing centre just about every day until he recently moved to Kakabeka Falls. “The door is always open so you never know who is going to come through the door — different types of personalities, different types of cultures, people from different places, locals and not necessarily Aboriginal, but all nations.”

Fortier said the healing centre has given him a different perspective on life.

“I try to understand different aspects of what people are talking about because they have experienced different things that I haven’t experienced,” Fortier said. “Coming to Blue Sky has given me more stability. I never had a place I could literally call home; these are my friends here and they are concerned about me and I am concerned about them.”

Ishabid would like to see more programming for youth and Elders in the future.

“If you build it, the people will come,” Ishabid said.

The healing centre is located on Victoria Avenue East near the Victoriaville Centre in Thunder Bay’s south-side downtown core.

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