This forum was held at Sts’ailes Lhawathet Lalem, a wellness centre located on Sts’ailes reserve outside Aggasiz. We chose the site because of its beautiful location and cultural history.
A team of five passionate and enthusiastic Indigenous youth was hired to plan and lead this forum. The team created workshops on cultural identity, reconciliation, wellness, and rights and advocacy. Twenty-five youth in government care participated in the forum, sharing their experiences, hopes, dreams and recommendations.
The forum culminated with a witnessing table to which decision-makers from Indigenous leadership and agencies, provincial government and key partners were invited. Being called to witness in Indigenous cultures is an honour and a responsibility. Witnesses observed with the expectation that they would share what they saw and heard, and work to carry forward the ideas and actions discussed by the youth.
The Indigenous Youth Leadership Team (IYLT) summarized what the youth shared and their recommendations in a report that was shared with decision-makers from participating Ministry of Children and Family Development and Delegated Aboriginal Agency offices in the Lower Mainland. The hope of the youth was that their findings would be used to create change in the system and would not be forgotten, and that the first Ignite Your Spirit forum was just the start of a larger movement to help enrich and improve the lives of all Indigenous youth in care.