Running concurrently with the language summit, the Ktunaxa Nation also hosted a youth summit, dubbed Ahead of the Game 2.0 from March 19 to March 21.
Hosted by the Nation Council’s education and employment sector, this is the second annual youth summit they have put on. In its first year, the purpose was to gather people and information in order to develop a youth council. From the information and input gathered, this year’s summit was put together.
“[The youth] wanted to see more cultural activities, they wanted to see more leadership workshops, all these different things so we made sure that our summit was evolved around the kids and what they were requesting,” said Shelby Aquila, youth coordinator with the Ktunaxa Nation education and employment sector. “It’s really youth driven.”
Aquila said that the response from the youth has been incredible, and that they are always looking for opportunities to engage. Ktunaxa Nation Council education ambassador Bonnie Harvey added that although it’s the kids’ spring break, they have been coming through to the programming.
“It’s been wonderful that the youth are showing up and they are on time,” said Harvey, “they are early for these events and these are their days off. These are their days off and they are choosing to be here so we appreciate that they are making good choices.”
The fact that the summit coincided with the language summit meant that there was opportunities for inter-generational transfer of knowledge, and plenty of time for the groups to intersect and to promote the Ktunaxa language growth between the two summits.
Programming consisted of cultural activities, workshops, group work and a performance from Ottawa musician and motivational speaker Cody Coyote, who is of Irish/Ojibwe descent. Aquila said that they discovered him online and voted as a team that he wold be the most relevant and inspirational for the youth.
Harvey said that the state of the Ktunaxa youth in 2019 is “definitely a work in progress,” but that the partnerships that the nation and its communities have forged have allowed for great opportunities such as this summit, and have allowed them to capitalize on those relationships they have with external agencies and industry.
“The partnerships that we’ve created in Education and Employment sector, as well as the nation as a whole, has helped us be able to utilize those relationships so that we provide opportunities for our youth to be able to see what their growth could be and so they can be the best person they can,” Harvey said. “And as such, we’re raising the quality of life for each Ktunaxa citizen.”