Catch up with the Uncovering Common Ground Cohorts!
Written By: Meagan Lortie, JGI Canada, Ty Styner, UCG Victoria Cohort Coordinator, and Liz Ardila, UCG Winnipeg Cohort Coordinator
Category: Youth Power
JGI Canada’s Uncovering Common Ground (UCG) initiative creates space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth from across Canada to exchange perspectives and knowledge in order to break down barriers and stereotypes impeding reconciliation. You recently met our UCG Coordinators Lizeth and Ty! Over the next half-year, we’ll share regular updates from Lizeth, Ty, and the UCG cohorts so you can join their journey towards reconciliation. Read our first update to find out what the cohorts have been working on and how they’ve been setting the wheels in motion for this year’s UCG projects!
In the fall, youth participants of the Uncovering Common Ground project have worked on building relationships with community members from local Nations and organizations. These conversations have contributed to increased understandings of local contexts and community interests which are an important part of developing their community projects. They have also fostered mutual recognition for the possible paths of collaborative work that UCG offers and how these paths can help support partners and participants’ shared hopes and visions, and the good growth of relationships, over the next half-year.
What is happening in each Cohort?
We have Cohort’s working on projects in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The Manitoba Cohort has been working on a project called “Widening Circles: Fostering reconciliation between Indigenous and Newcomer Populations” in partnership with the organization “Circles for Reconciliation” in Winnipeg. The project will focus on “Bridging communication and improving relationships between Indigenous peoples of Treaty 1 Territory in Manitoba, Indigenous peoples from South America (Kichwa, Inca and Mapuche) and newcomers to Winnipeg as an important key to fostering reconciliation.”
In Saskatchewan, a participant has been working hard on developing their project “Waanishka 7 Grandfathers Project” which will exist to support the rise of Indigenous youth. It will be a 7-week program that is centred around the 7 sacred teachings.
The British Columbia cohort is working on continuing and starting projects which currently include: community-based waste reduction in Secwepemc Territory, youth-led land restoration/reclamation and skills workshops with community members from the Scia’new First Nation, and supporting a local Nation’s ethnoecological (cultural and ecological) studies to support the protection and stewardship of first growth forests on Southern Vancouver Island. All these projects are exciting and inspiring in their own ways, and most importantly to the spirit and mandate of the UCG initiative, they are all deeply rooted in relationships!
The Ontario cohort has been working hard at developing two new projects and wrapping up one from last year. One new project in partnership with the Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre is building and filling a greenhouse with plant medicines for community members to learn about and help grow. The second new project is in partnership with Bagida’waad Alliance. This project will engage community members to participate in researching the reasons behind declining whitefish populations.
Finally, a few of the youth from last year’s initiative are wrapping up the Teaching Rocks project, which brought youth and Elders together to paint Anishinaabemowin words on rocks which will be distributed to places of importance to the original inhabitants. The goal of the project is to raise awareness about the language and recognition for traditional land use/acknowledgement. These projects continue to create space for great dialogue and have created ‘common ground’ for communities (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) to come together to do important work.
What have the UCG team been up to?
The role of the coordinators over the past months has been to support the participants to develop their Service Learning Projects and budgets, to create direct communication and relationship building with our potential partners, and to find learning opportunities for both UCG Staff and Participants through monthly workshops. Overall, the coordinators’ role has been about nourishing the roots and supporting the same common ground from which these projects grow and bloom.
“It has been a real privilege to work with the participants and with the UCG team, and to continue to be reminded of the importance of the work we do through their infectious energy, and dedication. I am excited to see what the next quarter will look like!” – Lizeth Ardila Cohort Coordinator for the Prairies.
Stay tuned for our next instalment to find out how the projects are progressing and paving the way for reconciliation and decolonization.
Visit the Uncovering Common Ground page to learn more about this initiative!