Owen Sound Riverfest

Delegate Represented Neyaashiinigmiing at Conference

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In the past year, Community Foundation Grey Bruce was able to make some connections so that a young person from Grey Bruce could attend two forums for learning being held in British Columbia. Chanice Johnston from Neyaashiinigmiing was able to attend two important conferences and returned home to her territory to share learning and experiences.   

From April 15th to 18th, Chanice attended the Art of Hosting workshop on Unceded Tla-o-qui-aht Territory, in Tofino, British Columbia. This conference was presented by The Circle of Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, who provided resources for Chanice to attend. She also received a grant from the Paul Martin Smart & Caring Endowed Fund administered by Community Foundation Grey Bruce, to assist with her travel. Over the past 15 years, in BC and across Canada, the Art of Hosting is used as a method to build capacity in philanthropic organizations and indigenous communities so as to undertake deeper engagement around change. The conference aimed to provide a unique opportunity for Indigenous leaders to participate in capacity building related to their community organizing and convening work so that they could amplify their solutions and increase confidence in leading community engagement. Chanice wrote about her experience, “Some of the topics included; How do we talk about Truth and Reconciliation in safe places?; How do we as Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people talk about something so heavy?; How do we stop placing blame and instead act to heal Canada’s past and move forward into a Safe Space for all, while understanding History, as it truly happened?”

A few months later on June 20th and 21st, Chanice was supported by the Vancouver Foundation to attend the Youth Funders Summit in BC. The Vancouver Foundation and The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada came together to present the summit for funders to co-explore innovative approaches in community investment and social change. This opportunity was for funders to hear directly from Indigenous, immigrant and refugee youth and young racialized leaders of social movements about the ways funders have worked differently to engage their voices in social change. Chanice writes, “We talked about how funders can see the cause, see the people and plan the outcome. But, also see the people, see the need and most of all put the paperwork down and get involved. How to help the Youth making changes and get to the point to be able to make these changes. They break it down step by step and hand hold if needed, because in the end, these Youth are making big changes everywhere, their voices are important and the need is now.”

Encouraging youth leadership is essential for change and is an important step on our path to reconciliation. Chanice rose to the challenges set out for her and learned a great deal about her own strength and leadership through the travel and work with other youth from across the country.  She writes, “The things I heard and talked about allowed me to grow as a woman and use my voice in a room full of people who I’ve never met before. It was comforting to see hand drumming and ceremony even though I was miles away from my territory. Tofino will have a place in my heart and is the space that reaffirmed that my voice is important.” 

As we learned in our Vital Conversations with youth last year, young people are strong advocates, they just need to be given opportunity and a seat at the table. We look forward to working with Chanice Johnston in the future and thank her for representing us in these two important circles.

Stuart Reid
Executive Director
Community Foundation Grey Bruce

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