activities throughout the hosting of the commemorative art installation allow for strong community involvement and the opportunity to introduce Indigenous youth to traditions such as smudging and beading. The youth resurgence component of the WWOS project is vital to connecting Indigenous young people with healing from loss, getting involved in their community and becoming youth leaders.
ASWR conference participants had the chance to hear firsthand what youth think of Walking With Our Sisters in several YouTube youth testimonials. One young teen said participating in the project lifted her spirit and commented, “We are healing ourselves.” Another young person observed the value of being a volunteer: “I feel strong-minded when I’m doing this.” After viewing the testimonials, Konsmo and Williams encouraged educators to share the testimonials with their students and visit an art installation with their class if one is coming to their community.
Konsmo and Williams closed their presentation by inviting conference participants to create their own moccasin vamps on paper to symbolize what they had learned at ASWR about Walking With Our Sisters. They explained that the left vamp should represent what they had heard from the presentation and youth testimonials and the right vamp should show a commitment to action in the classroom regarding missing and murdered Indigenous women, children and Two-Spirit people. They encouraged conference participants to talk about the issues as they worked.
The room became energized as participants’ creative juices flowed and their artistic and communication abilities were displayed. The possibilities for healing, transformation and leadership were evident in the vamps that the participants created and shared with each other. As Parmeet from Peel enthusiastically declared about her ASWR experience: “We’re empowered and inspired to do more and be more.”
With contributions from Erin Marie Konsmo and Krysta Williams from the Native Youth Sexual Health Network and Rachel Mishenene and Jennifer Drope, executive staff members at ETFO.