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Oshki Annishinabe Nigaaniwak
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Naming Ceremony

To gain traditional guidance and raise awareness of Indigenous culture, Indigenous Youth Strategy affiliated staff people pursued obtaining a spirit name for the strategy. In preparation for the ceremony, Rhonda Forgues, Oshki Annishinabe Nigaaniwak Coordinator, passed tobacco to Elder Jules Lavallee and talked about the responsibilities that come with receiving a spirit name.

"We talked about the Indigenous Youth Strategy, its intent, goals, and some of the work, challenges and opportunities. We also spoke about the importance of the way in which we would like to do our work going forward." - Rhonda Forgues

The naming ceremony was held on August 7, 2009 at the Miskobiik Training Centre with Elders Jules Lavallee and Mary Richard along with two helpers. The name gifted to the strategy was Oshki Annishinabe Nigaaniwak, which means 'Young Indigenous People Leading' in the Ojibway language.

The Elders and helpers also shared their visions. One helper saw two young eagles and explained they had brown heads, as young eagles do not get white heads until they are older, and the wings were at its side and pointing down. An Elder saw a rainbow, which in Indigenous culture means the Ribbons of the Sun, with the blue color being predominant and so bright that it almost glowed. These visions were incorporated into the strategy symbol.

The Elders also provided guidance. They indicated that the strategy had to be about engaging youth by being present for them and to think of the 'Youth as the Leaders of Tomorrow' as well as 'Leaders of Today.' They also indicated Oshki Annishinabe Nigaaniwak should be directed by the youth, as they are the ones who will be impacted by it and only they can articulate their needs. This should happen through ongoing communication and engagement and with programs being designed with heart and spirit not through intellect alone. As well, programs need to be more holistic to meet the many needs of the youth; not catering to those who are already "smiling" but to provide support to those who may not have too much to smile about. Key guiding principles offered by Elders included:

  • Caring- it’s our responsibility to take care of our youth
  • Sharing - we take care of youth by sharing our knowledge and information to ensure that youth have access to all the supports and resources that they need to survive in today’s world
  • Kindness - we are to treat all of our youth with kindness as youth are dealing with many issues and need all the kindness, gentleness and understanding that they can get
  • Truth - we need to be truthful; be real with youth, they know when we are not being honest with them.

Having the staff involved in the strategy in attendance was an important because the ceremony was also needed to connect everyone into the strategy, grow as a team as well as gain ownership of the strategy on both personal and team levels. The ceremony was a tremendous experience for all involved in different ways but all left with a deepened understanding and respect for Indigenous culture. One staff member shared the significance of the ceremony for her was that she learned it is important to add heart and spirit to programming and the way business is done as well as working with the community in the community.

Last update: August 8, 2016
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