By Michael Christianson
Last week members of the Youth Advocacy Training institute met with aboriginal youth at the Centre for a training program called Walking the Good-Life.
Developed in collaboration with Mikey Etherington, Cultural Competency Trainer and Cultural Program Manager at Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, this training promotes awareness on issues within First Nation communities regarding colonization and the impacts it has had on tobacco from a traditional and commercial perspective. The aim is to provide knowledge and understanding for youth to be advocates within their local communities to address the industrialization and commercialization of tobacco.
“Sacred and traditional tobacco is incredibly important to First Nation communities and these tobacco companies have really exploited this natural medicine, this sacred medicine, for profit,” said trainer Crara Kane. “We were saying in main stream knowledge when people think of tobacco they tend to think of commercial tobacco products, they think of cigarettes, they think of chewing tobacco, they’re not thinking of this sacred plant. So we really want to recognize and highlight those differences between the two.”
Grade 10 student Tonielle Tetroe was happy to be learning about her culture with her friends.
“It’s pretty good actually because there are a lot of native youth who have no idea what’s going on,” said Tetroe. “There are some people who are completely knowledgeable because we have a very native knowledge kind of community but there’s also some people who had no idea what their culture was about. I think our goal today is just to have everybody on the same page and know what is happening.”