Highlighting Indigenous Youth Leaders at the Canada Games

 

Story originally posted on turtlelodge.org.

As Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers from the Turtle Lodge, we were invited by the Canada Games Host Society to offer an Indigenous perspective to the 50th Anniversary Canada Games.  We acknowledge the Canada Games Host Society for taking a leadership role in respecting territorial and cultural protocols when holding an event on our territory.  The Canada Games has provided us an opportunity to share who we are as a People, leaving a legacy around Indigenous leadership and teachings to set an example moving forward.

We are excited to share our Indigenous contribution that will capture the hearts and minds of all Youth at the Canada Games!

We want to leave an Indigenous legacy of sacred values and earnest connection to the Earth that we have lived here in our homeland.  We believe these values, which provide us with instructions on how to treat each other and the Earth, will contribute to the long-term development of Youth across this country!

We will be lighting the Sacred Fire at our sacred site of Manitou Api on June 21, and Youth from our local territories and communities will be running the Torch, carrying the Water, and singing our sacred songs on the Drum.

We are proud to introduce you to the Indigenous Youth who were selected as Torch runners, Water carriers and Singers on the sacred Drum of our Nations, who will be involved in the ceremonial lighting of the Sacred Fire and Water ceremonies on June 21, and at the Opening Ceremonies of the Canada Games at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg on July 28, 2017!

Torch Runners

Alexander Fontaine is a 17 year old Cree and Ojibway citizen of the Norway House Cree Nation. He is a direct descendant of signatories to two treaties and is the great-grandson to the first woman elected to a First Nation council in Canada in 1952. He is a mixed-media artist and an athlete active in hockey and lacrosse and has represented Manitoba at the North American Indigenous Games in 2014 and 2017 in box lacrosse.

Phelan Leask

Phelan Leask is Anishinabe from Treaty 1 territory, and a member of the Sagkeeng First Nation. He attends the Sagkeeng High School and is an accomplished athlete.

Matthew Shorting

Matthew Brian Shorting is Anishinaabe from Treaty 1 territory. Matthew is a local public speaker who focuses on a holistic community based approach to addictions and trauma. He graduated from Urban Circle (Red River College) in 2014. Matthew works as a Community Justice Worker at Onashowewin, an organization that implements a restorative justice approach. He also works as a family support worker and volunteers with Aboriginal Youth Opportunities (AYO) which does advocacy work on behalf of First Nations youth. Matthew is a father to an 8 (soon to be 9) year old daughter and has been a Sundancer for 2 years.

Thunder Voice (David Dawson Courchene IV)

“Thunder Voice,” David Dawson Courchene IV, is from the Anishinabe Nation, Eagle Clan, and a member of Biigtigong Nishaaabeg.  Dawson is the grandson of David Courchene Jr, spiritual leader from Sagkeeng, Manitoba, and one of the Front Runners from the 1967 Pan American Games. At an early age Dawson took an interest in a number of different sports. Although hockey remains his favourite sport, he has played on his high school soccer, volleyball, basketball, and badminton teams and recently completed a community canoe trip that was once traveled by his ancestors.

Dawson has a love for animals and takes a special interest in the sacredness of frogs and snakes and their importance to our existence.  He hopes to work in this field when he gets older.

Water Carriers

Shanelle Maytwayashing

Shanelle Maytwayashing is 16 years old, born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and is a member of Lake Manitoba First Nation.  She and her parents reside in Winnipeg with her two younger sisters.  Shanelle currently attends the University of Winnipeg Collegiate and plays on the Wesmen Junior Varsity Girls Basketball team.  Shanelle and the team have been to the Manitoba Basket Ball Provincial Championships for 2 consecutive years.

Shanelle has demonstrated her desire, love and passion to participate in traditional gatherings and ceremonies.  For the past 7 years, she has been attending the Grandmothers Teachings “Coming of Age” Rites of Passage Teachings, held annually at the Turtle Lodge, in Sagkeeng, First Nation.  She is also involved with the Anishinabe Pride Program and plays with the Anishinabe Pride Girls Basket Ball team.  On top of working towards a high school diploma, basketball games and weekly practices, she participated in the Sacred Seven classroom sessions with elders and spiritual advisors, taking part in the sweat lodge and other traditional ceremonies.  Shanelle volunteered at the Sacred Seven Basket Ball Youth Camp and during the summer Shanelle works as a Kids Camp Leader.  Shanelle’s future goal is to complete high school and attend law school/university to become a lawyer

Fallon Ducharme

Fallon Ducharme is from Kakawekijiong (Ebb and Flow First Nation), her spirit name is Saabii Oganonaan and she is from the Bizhiw clan. Fallon has actively participated in the Ojibwé and Métis traditions since early childhood. In September of 2015, Fallon returned to Winnipeg to continue her educational journey within the Faculty of Education at the University of Winnipeg. Her dream has been to become an Indigenous Knowledge teacher or a counsellor. Powwows are a significant aspect of Fallon’s identity; with the influence of her Kookoo (Grandma) she began dancing at the age of three. The Powwow circle has taught her kindness, love, respect, and given her a sense of happiness, strength, and freedom.

Before she returned to Kakakwekijiong, Fallon lived in the west end of Winnipeg, where she was greatly influenced by her teachers Ray and Rhonda Stevenson, whose powwow club she had attended as a little girl. Fallon promised them when she returned to Winnipeg one day, she would attend their powwow clubs to give back to them and the community. Fallon kept her promise and began attending their powwow club at the University of Winnipeg. A year later she was asked to instruct a powwow club at the University of Manitoba. Shortly after, she was asked to instruct another powwow club at Wellington School. At both places Fallon teaches women of all ages how to dance the jingle dress dance, the story and songs behind it, and how to allow the dance to make you feel the things she feels while dancing.

Following her Métis traditions, Fallon began jigging at the age of ten and became a part of the square dancing group Eldon’s Steppers. The group travelled across Manitoba and as far as Saskatchewan to perform the dance for multiple audiences. They worked together as a group to put smiles on people’s faces and our own. Leadership skills, social skills, and self-confidence arose from this experience. Fallon believes that she has come this far in life both because of her family’s continuous support, but because of the others mentioned here.

“Our youth today need more role models in their life to keep a positive mind, body and spirit. The good way of life, or the red road, is accessible to anyone at any time.” – Fallon Ducharme

Pauline Guimond

Pauline Guimond is from the Anishinabe Nation from Treaty 1 territory, and a member of Sagkeeng First Nation. Pauline is 19 years old and enjoys being active and playing sports. She is also a twin.

Erica Daniels

Erica Daniels is a young filmmaker and entrepreneur specializing in Video Production, Photography, and Graphic Design from Peguis First Nation, who resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  She shares a message of hope to encourage Indigenous Youth to pursue ­their full potential and follow their dreams.

Erica has a passion for working with young people in her community by connecting them with their identity as First Nations people of their homeland.  She became connected to her culture and identity in 2011 when she attended her first ceremony at the Turtle Lodge in Sagkeeng First Nation, and has been learning from her Indigenous elders ever since.  She currently runs a cultural program at the Broadway Neighbourhood Centre and mentors youth in video production and graphic design through the Just TV Program.

Erica has recently completed her first documentary titled Mikinakay – Trail of the Turtle, which follows the story of two Indigenous youth and their journey to heal from the effects of intergenerational trauma.  This documentary was nominated for the Golden Sheaf Award for Best Documentary in the Arts and Culture Category at the Yorkton Film Festival.  She is currently working on her second short documentary titled Run As One – The Journey of the Frontrunners, a story of the 10 Indigenous men who ran the 1967 Pan American Games torch. In addition to her freelance work, Erica is part of the CBC Unreserved team, which recently won the award for Best radio station at the 2017 Indigenous Music Awards.

Red Shadow Singers Drum Group

The Red Shadow Singers are the main drum group at the Turtle Lodge.  Originating from a number of First Nations across Canada, they represent the Turtle Lodge as they carry the sacred songs that came through the Turtle Lodge through ceremony, prayer, and fasting.

They are often invited to sing the sacred songs and have been honoured by nominations at music awards, in the traditional category, in the United States and Canada.

To the Original People, the drum represents the heartbeat of Mother Earth and carries the voice of the people.

The Red Shadow Singers ask that their songs, received through ceremony, be used in spiritual ways for healing or prayer