Making choices

Julia Causa, learned drawing skills from Doug Lamalice along with Valerie Elleze from Fort Providence at the Choices youth conference in KFN on Feb. 9.
— Angele Cano/NNSL photo

A small group of youth travelled to K’atlodeeche First Nation for a gathering meant to spark thought about positive life choices.

The youth conference was sponsored by the department of community justice in Yellowknife and KFN and brought in young folk from Fort Providence, Trout Lake and Fort Liard to participate in the three day conference from Feb. 8 to 10.

Organizer and justice co-ordinator for KFN Sharon Pekok said this is one of the first youth conferences in a long time for the community and that she hopes for it to become an annual event. She said she took the inspiration for the event from larger gatherings held in Edmonton, Grande Prairie and Fort Simpson.

“I thought this would be an opportunity for our youth to be involved and also to bring youth to our community,” said Pekok. “The theme of this conference is choices. In our life we have to make many, and the choices we make steer our direction. We want to steer them in the direction to make positive choices.”

Youth registration began on Friday followed by a fire feeding ceremony and opening ceremonies in which youth were welcomed to the community by Chief Roy Fabian.

On Saturday, participants and their chaperones transitioned from station to station at Chief Sunrise Education Centre trying their hands at new and different types of art, snowshoeing, fiddling, traditional medicines, wellness and drum making.

By 2 p.m., Julia Causa from Fort Providence had just completed a colourful oil pastel drawing with a technique taught to her by Doug Lamalice.

“There isn’t as much of a chance to do art like this at home (in Fort Providence),” she said. “I came here for an experience, to learn new things.”

Youth were also introduced to many of the different resources in the community that extend their reach throughout the territory, such as learning legends from resources at the Dene Cultural Institute, to KFN Victim’s Services and community justice.

Out-of-town participants and chaperones were hosted at the currently-vacant treatment centre. Pekok said she tried to limit the role models and presenters to local people, so that youth connect the resources that exist for them and make partnerships from these meetings.

“I hope they are learning that they do have choices in their life and there is no limit to what they can achieve,” said Pekok.

— Angele Cano