Julia Weder, youth engagement coordinator at Hiit’aGan.iina Kuuyas Naay/Skidegate Youth Centre, contemplates the head, heart, hand moment at the Youth Leading Change social action workshop on Jan. 25. (Photo courtesy of Dylan Cohen)

Youth are leading change

Social change is a leading priority for Haida Gwaii youth

Youth leading change was the topic on conversation at the Hiit’aGan.iina Kuuyas Naay or Skidegate Youth Centre on Jan. 25. The workshop was to engage youth in the thought process about social change and how they can be an active part of it.

“Social change is about getting together with the community to establish a shared vision of the future you want to live in,” Julia Weder, youth engagement coordinator said.

Fifteen youth aged 14 to 17 years came from all parts of Haida Gwaii to attend the day long learning seminar. They participated in workshops led by Dylan Cohen, community organizer for youth and assisted by Nikolas Agarwal.

The seminars focused on organizing social change, exploring tactics, and story telling used as a tool in activism. Community members joined for an afternoon tea to discuss how the youth action may be supported and what actions helped to ground and inspire people with the rich resistance history of Haida Gwaii.

The youth also learned from William Russ, local Haida Gwaii youth leader the importance of music and how it affects social change.

“Traditional knowledge plays a vital role in advancing climate action,” said Weder, “Part of what we taught was the importance of story telling in social change. Stories are used to connect and build relationships which ultimately build community power.”

The idea of the workshop was the brainchild of Weder who has recently returned from a her own participation in a social change workshop which took place in Inuvik. She learned how the Arctic is experiencing social change at a faster rate than the rest of Canada. Cariboo and traditional food sources are dwindling thus the culture and lifestyle are affected by climate change.

READ MORE: ‘It’s terrifying’: B.C. teen leads effort to fight climate change

“It was a long day of learning, followed by a fun sleepover to build relationships with-in the northern communities,” Weder said.

The group was provided catered food, with each participant receiving a $30 honorarium and a copy of the book “500 Years of Resistance”, by Gord Hill. The next steps will be to continue with the establishment of a network between the youth to work collaboratively on creating a future they want in their community, Weder said.

“The youth had great energy and excitement. They were all motivated to organize between the communities. Everybody shared a head, heart and hand moment. They learned, they felt, and they committed.”

K-J Millar | Journalist

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