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Ontario Nature Youth Summit Reflection

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In Community news
Oct 28th, 2021
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Dear Members of AWARE Simcoe,

Firstly, I would like to thank you all very much for sponsoring me to attend and be a delegate for AWARE Simcoe at the Youth Summit For Mother Earth. It was an unforgettable experience where I learned about the Indigenous Culture, native plant species, and collaborated with youth across the province to share ideas on how to combat climate change in our communities. 

Next, I would like to quickly reflect on the amazing workshops I was able to attend, and the beautiful people I met along the way. I first attended the workshop for Ontario’s Native Plants, where I learned of the vast amount of edible plants growing right in my backyard. The knowledge was enriching and exciting and I look forward to foraging and learning more about these healthy and delicious foods growing all around us. That weekend, I actually went out and made sumac tea, although it was a little bitter, it was surprisingly good! I then attended the Careers and Networking in Environment workshop where I learned about the future in environmental studies and the impact networking can have on the possibilities open to you. I learned a lot about how we can not only change the world in our future, but how we can start this change now through advocacy for climate justice. 

One of the most culturally immersive and thrilling workshops I experienced was the “Languages – Anishinaabemdaa! Let’s speak Anishinaabemowin!” workshop, where I learned the basics of the Anishinaabe language. I learned how to say hello, my name’s Karli (Boozhoo anii, Karli ndiziinikaaz), as well as thank you (miigwetch), creator (Gitchi Manitou), the way of a good life (Mino-Bimaadiziwin), until I see you later (Baamaapii), we are all related (Gidinawendimin), and so many more. The workshop was a truly enriching experience, one I will never forget.

I then joined the Climate Action discussion, where all the youth talked about what we feel needs to happen around climate change, what the biggest issues are, and how we think we can overcome them. It was a very enriching conversation where I drew inspiration on what initiatives to bring to my environmental youth group and community to solve this major issue. 

Additionally, I would like to reflect on all the challenges I was able to partake in, beginning with making Bannock, to creating sustainable items, traditional beading, writing in nature, and so much more. Over the weekend, we were given a list of challenges that we could partake in to enrich our summit experience. I challenged myself to complete every challenge; taking around 50 images of plants and animals in an hour for the BioBlitz, writing a short story inspired by nature while sitting in the forest, writing to the government about environmental issues we face in our area, creating Instagram posts to share my learning from the summit with my friends and family, and much, much more. I even made my own medicine bag, ensuring I respectfully obtained the needed materials, giving back to the earth where I took resources. During these independent challenges, I learned more about myself and the natural world around me, I gained a greater respect for the spirit in every living thing, and the impact they have in this world, no matter how big or small. At the end of the Summit, I came second for completing all of the challenges and as a prize, I am honoured to have a one-on-one advising session with Elder Larry McDermott, and won books on Indigenous solidarity and climate justice, as well as an Ontario Nature Membership Pack and a Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Hip Pack.

I was also able to participate in a group challenge where my team and I designed a campaign to eradicate single-use water-bottles and plastics in Ontario, starting with boycotting Nestle in Guelph who continue to take great portions of drinking water from local resources. It was amazing to work with such passionate individuals and hear their ideas on how to combat climate change and make our world a better place.
Through my other environmental youth groups, I plan to take this learning of how to tackle initiatives and implement the Indigenous voice, and the voice of other minorities, into our campaigns. 

Throughout the summit, I was able to hear Elders every day open the summit with prayers in their native languages. It was beautiful and heartbreaking all at once, while although I could not fully understand what the Elder was saying, I recognized the importance of their prayer and reflected on how this country tried so hard to eradicate something so beautiful and meaningful. Through the entire summit, I experienced this culture and felt a sense of belonging, passion, and happiness. I felt awake and in tune with my surroundings. I built connections and met very different people compared to those from my day-to-day life. 

I not only took away knowledge of Indigenous solidarity and the Indigenous culture, but I learned a lot on how to conduct successful initiatives, talking with other youth on the projects they have taken on in their organizations. Learning what has worked for them, as well as what hasn’t. I have gained a greater understanding of the impact we have on the land and the people and animals that live around us, and aim to further expand my knowledge in these areas through initiatives, outreach, and research. I plan to take a combination of what I have learned throughout the summit to the current organizations I am a part of, and share my new knowledge throughout the community. 

Thank you very much for this opportunity, where I learned a great many things beyond my expectations of the summit. It has been something I will never forget, and an experience that has changed my perspective of life, and the world as a whole.

Chi-miigwetch,
Karli

2 Responses to “Ontario Nature Youth Summit Reflection”

  1. Ann Truyens says:

    Thank you Karli for the great report!
    I’m really glad that you were able to attend the Ontario Nature Youth Summit for Mother Earth.

  2. John Morgan says:

    So glad you were there and have enlighten us all. You are a valuable asset to Aware Simcoe.

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