By Rick Garrick
THUNDER BAY – Dilico de Dilico Anishinabek Family Care Youth Council is hosting a Virtual Celebrating Us Youth Gathering for youth ages 12 and up, with four evenings of events led by Turtle Concepts in September. The Celebrating Meme event is scheduled for September 9th from 7pm to 9pm, Celebrating Heart to Art event is scheduled for September 16th from 7pm to 9pm, Celebrating Marching to the Beat of Your Own Drum… And Making One event is scheduled September 23 from 7 to 9 p.m., and the Celebration Lounge event is scheduled for September 30 from 7 to 9 p.m.
“More than 300 young people have registered through the neighborhood,” says Kristian Bouchard, member of the Youth Council of Dilico and citizen of the Pays Plat. “The Youth Council wanted to bring something positive to other native youth, a chance to connect with new youth, especially after all the much needed isolation. “
Bouchard says the Celebrating Meme event is about young people matching memes with each other.
“They just want to have fun and laugh together, connect with each other and bring something positive to everyone,” Bouchard says. “It’s kind of a way some people got over the isolation of COVID-19 and we think it would be a really fun way to bring everyone together.”
Bouchard says the Celebrating Heart to Art event involves painting a canvas designed by Indigenous artist Kevin Belmore.
“We can paint them all together at the same time,” says Bouchard. “There are often young people who think they can’t do that, but you can and it’s a great way to show them and encourage them. “
Bouchard says the Celebrate the Walk to Your Own Drum … and Make One event involves teaching Biigtigong Nishnaabeg Elder Beatrice Twance-Hynes how to make a hand drum.
“This one is going to be really exciting,” said Bouchard. “It’s already full, we have more than 100 children registered for this one. Not everyone gets the chance to do a hand drum themselves, so they’re really excited for this one.
Bouchard says the Celebration Lounge event is an opportunity for young people to come together for a virtual PJ night with lounge pants sent to each of the attendees.
“The Celebration show is really exciting,” says Bouchard. “We’ll have Turtle Concepts there, we’ll have snacks to savor and a chance to socialize and connect with each other. I think it’s really important for new kids to connect with each other, especially during isolation. People haven’t had the chance to meet new people, and this is their chance.
Bouchard says the Dilico Youth Council is also running a competition for young people to submit a video clip of anything they celebrate as an Indigenous, such as beading, music, going out on the land, drumming or dance.
“It’s open until September 8 so kids can win two tickets to the Wake the Giant music festival,” says Bouchard.
Bouchard says the Dilico Youth Council, which is made up of 13 young people from Dilico’s 13 communities, began organizing the rally in person before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Communities in Dilico include Fort William, Red Rock Indian Band, Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek, Long Lake # 58, Pays Plat, Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, Netmizaaggamig Nishnaabeg (Pic Mobert) and Michipicoten.
“I think it’s really important that all of our young people, not only in Thunder Bay but in the district, have the chance to connect with their culture and themselves in one way or another,” says Bouchard.