Wegimaawadizid “Our Way of Governance”
Elders, Leadership and Youth Unite to Create a Vision for Mitaanjigamiing Nation’s Future
Co-creating a community vision for self-governance was the objective of a workshop held near Fort Frances, Ontario over two days in March. This event, which took place in the Mitaanjigamiing First Nation traditional Round house (Manidoo-Wiigiwam), effectively engaged over thirty youth, leadership and elders.
The National Centre for First Nations Governance was invited to assist the Mitaanjigamiing First Nation by hosting a Youth Engagement workshop in conjunction with a Leadership Essentials workshop. The purpose of jointly hosting these two workshops was to encourage the younger citizens to begin thinking about their potential future leadership roles. The leadership also wanted to educate the youth about the challenges that come along with positions of leadership. The elders and leadership acknowledged the youth for their high level of contribution over the two days.
“Using our own government and following our way of life and community traditional protocols is important to Mitaajnjigamiing youth”, shared a young participant. The Centre hosted conversations on effective ways each individual can assist the community in achieving their vision and how they can ensure the success of youth projects. Youth brought forward Nation rebuilding project ideas which included following their own laws, establishing their own law office, creating business and recreational facilities, coordinating social and cultural events, and creating a traditional teaching school.
The Youth Engagement and Leadership Essentials workshops focused on topics including community visioning, leadership essentials, inherent rights, reconciling the relationship between First Nations and Canada, citizen engagement, and how individual citizens can assist the community in achieving their vision. One of the questions posed in the workshops was “What does creating a new memory in the mind of our children mean to your community?” NCFNG utilized exercises such as the Collective Mind Map and the Interview Matrix which connected the youth with the resources and community allies who may be able to assist in making the projects a success.
The elders set a good example practicing their inherent style of governance throughout the workshop. As a part of Mitaanjigamiing First Nation traditional protocol and customary practices, directed by Wegimaawadizid (Their way of Governance) each visitor and participant was encouraged upon entering the community Round house (Manidoo-Wiigiwam) to place a tobacco offering at the entrance to acknowledge the sacred lodge and spiritual items. Each morning the drum keeper and helpers rendered the four traditional songs and a prayer was offered in Anishinaabemowin, to seek guidance, strength, and wisdom. Elder Edna Morrison closed the event by sharing, “I am really happy about youth participation…it almost made me cry!”
The joint Youth forum and Leadership Essentials workshop was a great success and the youth expressed their sincere appreciation for the leadership’s involvement participating side by side with them. NCFNG commends Mitaanjigamiing First Nation for taking the first steps toward engaging their young citizens in restoring their Wegimaawadizid—their way of Governance.