Wabun Youth Gathering Changing Lives – Under a Northern Sky

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A traditional Pow Wow was held for Senior Wabun Youth aged from 13 to 18 during the Ninth Annual Wabun Youth Gathering held from July 13 to 24, in Elk Lake, Ontario. They are pictured here with their chaperones, traditional performers and factilitators.
A traditional Pow Wow was held for Senior Wabun Youth aged from 13 to 18 during the Ninth Annual Wabun Youth Gathering held from July 13 to 24, in Elk Lake, Ontario. They are pictured here with their chaperones, traditional performers and factilitators.

WABUN LAKE – The Wabun Youth Gathering celebrated its 9th year in the wilderness setting at the Eco Centre Lodge in Elk Lake from July 13 to 24. Dozens of Wabun youth attended the event which was sponsored by Wabun Tribal Council Health Services based in Timmins. Event coordinator was Faye Naveau of Wabun.

Nishnawbe-Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Harvey Yesno (pictured on far right) was a guest speaker at the Ninth Annual Wabun Youth Gathering held in Elk Lake, July 13 to 24. Also pictured from L-R are: Kaytlya Julien, Matachewan FN; and Mattagami FN members Kiara Constant, Emily Ludebeck, Kaylee Naveau, Koral Saile, Gillian Prince and Elizabeth Norman.
Nishnawbe-Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Harvey Yesno (pictured on far right) was a guest speaker at the Ninth Annual Wabun Youth Gathering held in Elk Lake, July 13 to 24. Also pictured from L-R are: Kaytlya Julien, Matachewan FN; and Mattagami FN members Kiara Constant, Emily Ludebeck, Kaylee Naveau, Koral Saile, Gillian Prince and Elizabeth Norman.

Nishnawbe-Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Harvey Yesno attended the gathering July 23 as guest speaker. “I am happy that Wabun invited me to be at their youth gathering here today. If I have anything to offer here today, it is that each and every one of you, no matter what you are experiencing now or has happened to your past, look beyond the horizon and know that you can move ahead and do many wonderful things. Education is the key that will take you forward,” said Grand Chief Yesno.

Wabun leaders, Chief Walter Naveau of Mattagami FN, Chief Kevin Tangie of Brunswick House FN and Chief Marcia Brown Martel of Beaverhouse FN spoke to the Wabun Youth through their own personal stories and life experiences.

“No one knows where their path will take them, as young people, I encourage you to listen to those Elders and teachers who are providing you with traditional and cultural awareness. Take those tools and skills that they are passing on to you and use them to make good decisions for your future,” said Chief Naveau.

Chief Tangie spoke to the Wabun Youth about bringing back the spirit of community to all the Wabun First Nations.

Wabun Junior Youth took part in several workshops and educational activities during the first week of the Wabun Youth Gathering which was held from July 13 to 24 at Elk Lake, Ontario. Pictured (L-R) are Matachewan FN members, Quinton Batise and Calvin Collins.
Wabun Junior Youth took part in several workshops and educational activities during the first week of the Wabun Youth Gathering which was held from July 13 to 24 at Elk Lake, Ontario. Pictured (L-R) are Matachewan FN members, Quinton Batise and Calvin Collins.

“I remember as a boy that my grandmother was a big part of my life and the Elders in the community were very helpful to all of the children. We have drifted away from that sense of community and now with traditional teachings and culture, we are finding our way back. Things are getting better for our young people,” explained Chief Tangie.

Chief Brown-Martel was on hand for the duration of the gathering and worked closely with the youth as a chaperone.

The event was divided into two parts. The first week from July 13 to 17 was held for junior youth aged from eight to 12 and the second week from July 20 to 24 was for senior youth aged 13 to 18. The first week of events featured facilitators Craig Fox and his partner G’Wemin Migwans of Wikwemikong First Nation, traditional teachers and dancers who instructed the male and female youth on shield making, clay pottery and medicine pouches. They also led the junior youth in a mini Pow Wow. The Big Bear Claw Singers of Brunswick House First Nation performed at the junior week mini Pow Wow. Native story tellers Roger Jacklin and Lizz Brinootch of Magnetawan also entertained and educated the children.

Wabun Chiefs spoke to youth from their respective communities during the Wabun Youth Gathering held from July 13 to 24 in Elk Lake. From L-R are: Chief Kevin Tangie, Brunswick House FN; Cathy Naveau, Education Director, Mattagami FN; Chief Walter Naveau, Mattagami FN and Chief Marcia Brown-Martel, Beaverhouse FN.
Wabun Chiefs spoke to youth from their respective communities during the Wabun Youth Gathering held from July 13 to 24 in Elk Lake. From L-R are: Chief Kevin Tangie, Brunswick House FN; Cathy Naveau, Education Director, Mattagami FN; Chief Walter Naveau, Mattagami FN and Chief Marcia Brown-Martel, Beaverhouse FN.

The senior week featured a series of workshops by Running Thunder Native Traditional dancers and teachers from Edmonton, Alberta. The performers included group leader Adrian Lachance, dancers Marcus Pahtayken, Waniya Cardinal and Danielle Bird as well as their group Elder Russel Ouauger. Medicine Man and healer Ralph King of Rama First Nation led medicine walks for both the junior and senior groups.

A traditional Pow Wow was held for Senior Wabun Youth aged from 13 to 18 during the Ninth Annual Wabun Youth Gathering held from July 13 to 24, in Elk Lake, Ontario. They are pictured here with their chaperones, traditional performers and factilitators.
A traditional Pow Wow was held for Senior Wabun Youth aged from 13 to 18 during the Ninth Annual Wabun Youth Gathering held from July 13 to 24, in Elk Lake, Ontario. They are pictured here with their chaperones, traditional performers and factilitators.

The senior group Pow Wow was led by the White Stone Cree Singers of Timmins which included singers Nathan Naveau and Mark Carpenter. They were also supported by Male Elder Dancer George Rose and the Four Eagle White Women Singers of Timmins which included Sarah Rodrique, Shaylan Sutherland, April Atlookan, Holly Buffalo-Rodrique and Sharley Rodrique.

Jeremy Naveau, an 18 year old member of Brunswick House FN, pointed out that one of the best things about the gathering was the opportunity to renew friendships with other youth from the Wabun territory.

The Ninth Annual Wabun Youth Gathering was held from July 13 to 24 at the Eco Lodge in Elk Lake, Ontario. Pictured are the Wabun Youth Junior participants who took part in the first week of events.
The Ninth Annual Wabun Youth Gathering was held from July 13 to 24 at the Eco Lodge in Elk Lake, Ontario. Pictured are the Wabun Youth Junior participants who took part in the first week of events.

“Every year I find I learn more about Native traditions and culture and that helps me with my life in the choices I make. I enjoyed the skits and role playing,” commented Jeremy Naveau.

Quinton Batise, an 11 year old Matachewan FN member participated in the junior week.

“This is my first time at the gathering and I had a lot of fun, learned things and met many new friends from other communities. I thank the Creator and everyone who gives us this gathering,” commented Batise.

Elders Vina Hendrix, of Matachewan FN and Morris Naveau of Mattagami FN, assisted Wabun Youth and led opening and closing prayers.

Wabun Health Director Jean Lemieux congratulated Wabun Youth for making the ninth annual gathering a reality.

A traditional Pow Wow was held for Senior Wabun Youth aged from 13 to 18 during the Ninth Annual Wabun Youth Gathering held from July 13 to 24, in Elk Lake, Ontario. They are pictured here with their chaperones, traditional performers and factilitators.
A traditional Pow Wow was held for Senior Wabun Youth aged from 13 to 18 during the Ninth Annual Wabun Youth Gathering held from July 13 to 24, in Elk Lake, Ontario. They are pictured here with their chaperones, traditional performers and factilitators.

“I want to point out that this gathering is about helping our youth make good choices I look at all the young people here today and I want them to know that they are our leaders of tomorrow. We want them to take our jobs and fill our shoes and keep the circle strong. I offer up my thanks to NAN Grand Chief Harvey Yesno, the Chiefs of Wabun, our Elders, our Executive Director Shawn Batise and to our event coordinator Faye Naveau, Crisis Team Coordinator for making this year’s event a success,” said Lemieux.

The Wabun Youth Gathering came out of the vision and guidance of the late Elder Thomas Saunders, Brunswick House First Nation. He wanted to see the Wabun First Nations youth coming together in one gathering. Wabun Tribal Council is a regional territorial organization which represents the six First Nation communities of Beaverhouse, Brunswick House, Chapleau Ojibwe, Flying Post, Matachewan and Mattagami in Northeastern Ontario and it is directed by its respective Chiefs.


 

Article and pictures by Xavuer Kataquapit

 

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Under The Northern Sky is the title of a popular Aboriginal news column written by First Nation writer, Xavier Kataquapit, who is originally from Attawapiskat Ontario on the James Bay coast. He has been writing the column since 1997 and it is is published regularly in newspapers across Canada. In addition to working as a First Nation columnist, his writing has been featured on various Canadian radio broadcast programs. Xavier writes about his experiences as a First Nation Cree person. He has provided much insight into the James Bay Cree in regards to his people’s culture and traditions. As a Cree writer, his stories tell of the people on the land in the area of Attawapiskat First Nation were he was born and raised.