Kitigan Zibi: Magic Wands are Powerful Tools
After learning about its youths’ vision for their community, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg launches plans to build an arena
Community members were so inspired by the comments and passion of the youth that they resurrected plans to construct an arena in the community. A focal point for sports and cultural events, the new arena will provide youth with increased opportunities for recreation and connections to their culture and heritage. It’s expected that the arena will be completed in the first half of 2011. Located in Quebec, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, is a member of the Algonquin First Nation.
In October 2010, NCFNG facilitated a two-hour session with students in grades 10-12 at Kitigan Zibi High School. The goal was to engage the youth and help them identify the elements in their community that would most improve their lives.
The questions posed were simple: “If you had a magic wand, what does your community look like? What is needed to support young people in your community?”
The students were full of ideas, and their answers to these questions were revealing. Youth identified many things that would help support them – from more employment opportunities and greater interaction with elders to the desire for an arena for sports and cultural events and the addition of hiking and biking trails to make it safer to get around their community.
After the session, a staff member of the Algonquin Anishinabeg National Tribal Council (AANTC) returned to her office with the large sheets of paper articulating the youths’ dreams for their community. Other staff members noticed the colourful pages and started taking a closer look at these “mind maps.” One issue immediately leapt out: the students’ desire for an arena.
Several years ago, the community had talked about building an arena. Plans had been drawn up, yet the project was eventually put on hold. Seeing the passion the youth had for an arena, the staff members pulled out the old plans and quickly assembled a committee to begin fundraising.
“The mind map exercise with NCFNG had exciting results beyond the youth’s wildest expectations,” says Alexandra McGregor, Human Resources Advisor for the AANTC. “When I shared the mind map with our technical staff and KZHSS management, many of the things the youth were dreaming about started to happen. One staff member was inspired to re-start the community arena project by updating discarded plans – it’s now an exciting new fundraising and awareness campaign in support of our young people.”