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One alumni, two projects : Teaching traditional knowledge and celebrating with graduates during COVID-19

Q&A’s with Carly Chartier

Where are you from? What place do you call home and why?

I am from Selkirk Manitoba, which is 20 minutes away from Winnipeg, Manitoba. We are located on the Treaty 1 Territory! (which is both the homeland of the Metis and where my family is from, Sagkeeng First Nation!) I am from Selkirk where I was born and raised, we are known for our Steel Plant know nationally as well as the Catfish Capital (we have a huge catfish statue that many take photos in front of lol!)

What community/communities are you part of ?

My communities are limitless! There are so many different types of community and I work on many levels to promote community involvement.

What are you passionate about? What are your hobbies?

I am passionate about many things but to sum it all up, it would be to mostly to make the world a better place (in as many different ways as possible). Through my life I have seen and I learned so much from everyone around me what is needed to create change and how to speak up and to be a support and advocate for the people around me. It excites me that the next generation will really have a say and input into the world and ways to contribute. There are so many more avenues and platforms now compared to what our previous generations had.

Moccasin Project

How did the idea for this project come to you?

When I was working as a youth program coordinator for an indigenous non profit I always had people reach out and ask if we had offered classes to make moccasins as they had years and years ago. I looked into how to make it happen and got the amounts and education needed to do so. I found that our organization was just unable to offer it for free and that community members wouldn’t be able to afford it either. After many brainstorming sessions we looked into finding grants and came across #RisingYouth within TakingITGlobal.
I was able to learn how to make moccasins from an awesome mentor and was fairly confident I would be a “good enough” teacher to pass on the skills. We had a very train the trainer type of relationship. We then had a group of all ages sign up for the course.

What was your motivation behind this project?

The motivation came from the youth I was teaching! They were so excited to learn and worked so hard to walk out of that class wearing their own pair of moccasins. As we spent hours and hours together sewing and beading ( and snack breaks of course) we learned more and more from each other. During these sessions, these students were so dedicated to their work they even took it home to work on it. The the next day youths would say : “ my granny saw me beading and said she hasn’t beaded in years, I didn’t even know my granny could bead! Now we are beading and I can show her how to make moccasins too” and let me tell you my heart nearly exploded!

How did your community react to your project? Have they been encouraged to get involved in any other ways?

The community loved it and we used it kind of like a pilot project. When we did the group project we included a survey and feedback cards to know what we could improve on. There were many other groups who have since reached out and I have gone each them and other groups.

In retrospect, what was the impact of your project?

The impact of the project was actually a lot bigger than I thought it would be. It was a little different having someone my age to facilitate a group lesson or to be teaching a cultural tradition to people of all ages. Usually, when someone teaches you something like beading or moccasins, they aren’t often younger than you. I’ve seen people continue to make moccasins and other crafts and the amount of work and growth has been amazing.

How has the project impacted you in your everyday life?
The project did impact me as it encouraged me to not give up on ideas and instead finding ways to make them work. Teaching the groups has opened a lot of doors in the sense of networking and reaching into other groups.

Graduation photos project

The idea for my second COVID-19 related #RisingYouth project came from the realization that COVID-19 cancelled the graduation events where I live. Working in the community, it was brought to my attention that graduates were unable to safely celebrate in traditional way.

My project was to order caps and gowns and to offer free graduation photography services.

What was your motivation behind this project?
After talking to youths about how proud they must be to graduate, they told me they were upset about not being able to have a typical graduation. After more discussion, I found out that they had missed the formal graduation photos that took place earlier that year and they would now have no photos for their graduation. I am a hobby photographer and I thought; ‘’well this is something I can do to make their day special.’’

How did your community react to your project? Have they been encouraged to get involved in any other ways?
There was massive support! I had to start to take bookings for times as I needed to operate safely under COVID-19 restrictions. I had to place rush orders for the caps and gowns. Other places offered their yards, cars and decorations. I also had many other photographer friends who reached out and volunteered too.

In retrospect, what was the impact of your project?

The impact was bigger than I thought. I had people ask for other groups, other than high school graduates, which I was of course more than happy to include. It was harder to operate under COVID-19 restrictions since we took it very seriously. We made sure to reschedule if the youth or their families were unwell.

How has the project impacted you in your everyday life?

Mostly I learned that something small can make the biggest difference.

Were there some bumps along the road or things you may do differently in the future?

It was harder to plan as under COVID-19 restrictions. We had to maintain social distance and only do one family at a time to ensure that we could sanitize the equipment. Being outside, we also had to hope for good weather outside of my nine to five job.

What would you say to a youth who is thinking about doing a #RisingYouth project?

There is nothing too small or too big. Although you may think its just a quick project, people are going to remember it and you for making it happen and making it available.

Anything else you would like to add?

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep funding programs like #RisingYouth and TakingITGlobal. The reach these projects have is limitless and do far more good than you can measure.




Inspirational stories of youth engagement in Canada

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