Canadian students learn about Indigenous culture, reconciliation in Winnipeg

50 high school students from across Canada learn and share Indigenous knowledge while building relationships in the 'Youth-2-Youth' program launched by organization - Honouring Indigenous Peoples. Temi Olatunde reports.

By Temi Olatunde

Fifty high school students from across Canada – half of them were Indigenous – gathered at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on Friday for the closing ceremony of a weeklong reconciliation project.

“I think we accomplished a very positive thing, a very small step forward for records of truth, reconciliation,” said John Currie, the executive director of Honouring Indigenous Peoples.

“We call it our youth-to-youth national truth and reconciliation experience. It’s about bringing youth from all parts of Canada, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, together to talk about truth and reconciliation, to experience Indigenous teachings and to work on plans about what the future of the environment as well.

The students spent four days at Turtle Lodge International Centre for Indigenous Education and Wellness, about 120 kilometres north of Winnipeg, as part of the program.

They learned from elders and knowledge keepers about cultural and land-based teachings.

“Yeah, it was amazing,” Derek Monias, a Grade 12 student from Thunder Bay, told CityNews. “We all work in unity, brought ideas together and we all realize we’re not so different.”

“It’s also to a very monumental thing for youth to be able to realize that they hold power and to kind of gain that knowledge and tools to empower themselves,” added Noia McFetridge, a Grade 11 student from Surrey.

students sitting in a big circle

Students gather at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg on March 31 to learn about Indigenous culture. (Temi Olatunde/CityNews)

The program was put together by the organization Honouring Indigenous Peoples. Currie says it’s the first of its kind.

“They did learn hands on how to clean rabbits, how to fully fish, how to put up a teepee, and through doing these things together, that really, truly builds our relationship with each other because they’ve got to work at it together,” said Currie. “But at the same time, create space for them to have that dialogue with each other and get to know each other. And my hope is that they stay connected as they go back.”


Students were receptive to the teachings.

“Learning about Indigenous culture is important for reconciliation, for understanding both sides of the story,” said Cameron Ross, a Grade 12 student from Halifax. “Learning Indigenous culture means I can understand the other aspect. I can understand why the land is so important.”

“I can also use that knowledge that I gain and those that I gained here to help engage the rest of my community back home,” added Ethan Basil, a Grade 11 student from Toronto.

Currie says empowering the youth is important to bring meaningful change to the world.

“So a lot of people talk about youth being the future,” he said. “We believe that youth are the now and that their voice needs to be heard today so that we can build the future that they want to live in.”

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today