What is the NLC?
4Rs has set out to create opportunities for youth-led reconciliation initiatives that support dialogue and action that pushes us beyond buzzwords, towards a process of generational change.
For each cohort, we call together teams of 2-4 young people between the ages of 18-30, to join our National Learning Community (NLC). Together, we build our capacity to take action on reconciliation and decolonization in ways that are relevant to us as young people, reimagining the process of reconciliation and decolonization through the lens of authentic relationship building, critical dialogue and collaborative leadership. Our hope is to weave together networks of awesome young people, with organizations and movements contributing to a healthier ecosystem for those of us moving forward with the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
This year provides us with an opportunity to work with 8 communities across Turtle Island to plan projects and host conversations that matter, as we imagine possible futures based in community celebration, cultural revitalization, and healing work for Indigenous people. Throughout our journey this year, the NLC will be exploring how centering Indigenous futures and our communities’ needs brings new meaning to reconciliation and decolonization.
We hope to come to understand these new learnings by centering your community’s needs, co-designing a community project to address those needs, and coming together to share our experiences and grow with one another.
This team is made up of four Indigenous young people living on Wolastoq and Mi’kmaq territories who want to focus on mental health and wellness for the youth within these regions. Their hope is to focus on holistic wellness and work with community to ensure youth have access to land-based learning opportunities.
Kianna Bear-Hetherington is from Sitansisk in Fredericton, New Brunswick. She has just completed her fourth year of the Bachelor of Science in Environment & Natural Resources program at the University of New Brunswick (UNB), with a major in Water Resource Management. In addition to advocating for environmental protection and forest stewardship, Kianna is a proud Wolastoqey woman and is passionate about advancing Indigenous rights. She also volunteers as the Indigenous Representative (Nuci Putuwasuwin) at UNB, focusing on improving the experiences of and opportunities for Indigenous students. Kianna’s activism reinforces the beliefs and values that she intends to bring forward in her chosen career path – to be a voice for communities facing injustices caused by environmental racism and to encourage Indigenous youth to use their voices.
Chloe is Mi’kmaq from Acadia First Nation and grew up on-reserve in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, She is an academic who was lucky and motivated enough to leave a toxic family behind and work for herself as a first-generation student and is now a first-generation, soon-to-be, lawyer. She is someone she wishes she had around when she was younger to be a role model and someone that they can reach out to. She’s spent the majority of my life battling imposter syndrome, and she’s broken out of that shell to be the voice and ears that youth need in those communities, like her own, that don’t have that.
Rachel is from Sitansisk First Nation. She holds a degree in sociology and politics and currently works as a senior advisor to the executive director of the Wolastoqey Tribal Council Inc. Rachel’s passions are youth education, employment, and mental health and is currently completing the Indigenous Women in Community Leadership program through the Coady Institute at St. Francis Xavier University.
Justice Gruben is an educated Wolastoqey and Inuvialuit man that graduated from St. Francis Xavier University in May of 2021, majoring in Latin American History and minoring in Sociology with a strong focus on human rights, equity and justice. He considers himself to be a thought leader and a social justice advocate; he promotes youth empowerment by amplifying marginalized voices, promoting cultural awareness, and community engagement. In his home community of Kingsclear First Nation, he has worked in leadership capacities for the last 5+ years. As a result of his roles, he has been able to create strong and meaningful connections with youth and community members through experiential and land-based learning, both in his community and in Indigenous communities abroad. He considers himself to be a passionate, driven and strong-willed individual who has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to Indigenous rights, history and practices. He is excited to be a part of such a well-versed team in our community and looks forward to working in healthcare and within a community capacity.
This team is made up of Anishinaabeg and settler members who come from the eastern part of Georgian Bay. Their goal is to host a youth gathering focusing on building lasting relationships between surrounding settler and Indigenous communities through on-the-land skills, traditional knowledge and dialogue.
Kyla Judge is part of the marten clan from Shawanaga First Nation, identifying as an Anishinaabekwe using she/her pronouns. She holds a BA.H in Indigenous Studies from Trent University (2018). Kyla is a recently elected councillor for Shawanaga First Nation (2021). Kyla is passionate about Anishinaabek aadziwin and grassroots organizing. She is one of the four co-founders of the Georgian Bay Anishinaabek Youth. Kyla is a jingle dress dancer, auntie, language learner, and avid paddler.
Karine is an all-around lover of being outdoors and eating good food. She has many passions; food, gardening, paddling, camping, biking, hiking, yoga, and poetry but feels the most like herself when she is outside.
Nikeeta Tabobondung comes from the sunny shores of Georgian Bay from an island community called Waaseyaakosing (Wasauksing). She’s a mama of two beautiful daughters, Benaisiihns and Dnaatese. Nikeeta works in community doing life promotion, addiction and mental health support, community organizing, and creating amazing land-based learning opportunities. She is very proud to be working for my home community after being away from home for 9 years, it brings her so much pride to serve my community. Nikeeta prides herself on being a safe space for folks, on going up to bat for her clients, on being an advocate for those who are finding their way and for being a safe aunt to everyone who needs kindness, love and family.
This team is made up of Anishinaabe cousins and siblings from Wikwemikong and Sudbury. Their project is centred around passing on ceremonial teachings to young people in their community through ceremony and conversations with local knowledge keepers This project hopes to pass on these teachings in the hopes that these young people will be able to hold these ceremonies themselves moving forward.
Marlo is a queer, Indigenous youth from N’Swakamok and Wikwemkoong. She is passionate about community building and investing in relationships that make up that community. Marlo currently lives and works in Wikwemkoong, ON.
Alex is a 27-year-old individual that grew up in Sudbury, Ontario. She has been working as a Registered Nurse for the last 3 years. Both of Alex’s parents both First Nations, her mom was Mohawk and Ojibwe while her dad is Ojibwe from Wikwemkong. Alex also identifies as two-spirit/queer and has been in a long-term relationship with my girlfriend, Sarah for quite some time. Alex loves animals and has two dogs and two cats.
Samantha is an Aniishnaabe person who loves learning about plants and nature and will be working as a gardener this summer. Samantha is really interested in learning as much about Ojibwe culture and language as they can.
Made up of three Anishinaabe young people from Sheshegwaning and Toronto, this team wants to bring together community members around traditional food and stories. Partnered with the Land First Youth Initiative, they want to save stories from elders and community members to have for future generations.
Caeley McLean Genereux
Caeley is Anishinaabe from the Bear Clan and holds the name Ozawa Giniw Kwe. She is bisexual and was born and raised in Toronto but went back and forth from her home community of Sheshegwaning for most of her life. Caeley is a sober and passionate activist and artist who recently graduated with her Honours Bachelor of Science with a specialization in Mental Health and a minor in Sociology. Her current team projects include cultural revitalization, language revitalization, and mental well-being in various Indigenous communities including her own! Caeley hopes to one day become an emotion worker.
Kiara McLean Genereux
Kiara is of Scottish, Odawa & Potawatomi Descent and was born and raised in Tkaronto. She has roots in Sheshegwaning First Nation located on Manitoulin Island and decided to move back to her home community. She is currently The Project Manager for Land First Youth Initiative working towards cultural restoration and Traditional Indigenous Food Systems. Kiara went to Chef School in Tkaronto and has over 7 years of experience in the industry where she had the opportunity to work for some of the best Indigenous Chefs in the city which sparked her interest in traditional foods, cooking & Indigenous Agriculture.
Kaitlynn Tomaselli is Anishinaabe and Italian from Manitoulin Island. As an emerging curator and arts administrator, she currently works for the world’s largest presenter of Indigenous screen content, imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts, as the Program Manager. Prior to her time at imagineNATIVE, she worked with Debajehmujig Theatre Group, The Sudbury Theatre Centre, and Native Earth Performing Arts. Community building within the arts is a big part of her life and she is honoured for the opportunities to connect artists and audiences through film, theatre, and media arts.
This group is made up of young Indigenous community organizers in Winnipeg who want to make culture and ceremony accessible to those living in the city. Their goal is to ensure the urban Indigenous community in Winnipeg can access what they need in order to feel connected in the city.
Quinn Amos is a 23-year-old 2spirit person, a community support worker and a caregiver who takes pride in the roles they hold in community. Quin believes that every Indigenous person should have free, easy access to ceremony and community.
Terrell Ironshell is a 28-year-old Oglala Lakota and Eastern Band Cherokee from the sacred Black Hills in South West South Dakota. He is a pipe carrier and a father as well as a co-founder of the International Indigenous Youth Council and continues to be an adult mentor for the group. Terrell has dedicated his life to carrying on Lakota culture and teachings and building power and community with Indigenous people across turtle island.
Mars Ballantyne is an Indigenous young person from Winnipeg Manitoba. They are a drummer, a ceremony helper, a community organizer, and facilitator. Mars joined this year’s NLC to find ways to make ceremony accessible to the young people in their community.
Kakeka ThunderSky is a young Anishinaabkwe with roots in Poplar River First Nation. She is a former kid in care from and in Winnipeg Manitoba. She is a mother and a grassroots community helper, facilitator and community organizer with a strength-based, harm-reduction, and non-judgmental approach. She has organized and volunteered in Winnipeg for many years now, helping run community giveaways and gatherings that align with the themes of anti-violence, land and water protection, harm reduction, and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2 Spirit people. Land, water and sky protection and child advocacy are her passions. She has witnessed a direct link between the two as we have a responsibility to both the children and the land. Kakeka has done work in Winnipeg to answer nationwide calls to action and has travelled across so-called Canada to stand in direct solidarity with land and water defenders. She believes direct action rooted in culture and ceremony is necessary to get the children and land back. Currently, she is a member of the Red Rising Magazine Collective and is the Communications and Engagement Coordinator for the Lake Winnipeg Indigenous Collective.
This team is made up of Oji-Cree folks from the communities of Wasagamack and St. Theresa Point in Northern Manitoba. Their goal is to provide accessible activities and workshops for the youth in their communities in the hopes of building up youth involvement.
Adria is 19 years old and from Wasagamack First Nation in Northern Manitoba. In her free time, Adria loves to play guitar, sing and dance. She’s an active person and loves to play floor hockey and volleyball. Though she’s shy when you first meet her, Adria is funny, kind and very talkative! She enjoys meeting new people and trying new things in order to break out of her comfort zone. Adria’s excited to spend this year with the NLC and to learn new things.
Lavina grew up in St. Theresa Point and goes by her nickname, Nyna. Her hobbies are beading, going on walks and runs, gaming and doing activities on the water like swimming, canoeing, lund boat racing and fishing. Lavina wants to be part of the NLC to help improve her community for the better.
Briana joined the NLC in order to benefit herself and her community and to encourage others to do the same. She loves running, dancing and making new friends. Briana hopes that her time on the NLC will show how resilient and empowering Indigenous people are and can be.
Sebastian is a 23-year-old mother to 2 beautiful children. Through becoming a mother, they taught themselves things like crocheting, sewing, baking and multiple skills around arts and music. Sebastian shares these hobbies through teaching youth within their community on their own time. They’ve also helped bring back their granny’s recipe, which has to it becoming a big business within Island Lake. Though they were given another name at birth, the name Sebastian was chosen because it was given to them by their uncle through their identity of being a two-spirit person. Currently, Sebastian is an intake worker for community wellness in St. Theresa Point.
This team is made up of four Cree young people in Northern Manitoba who want to bring back traditional knowledge and cultural activities to their community. They want to give youth the opportunity to reconnect with and reclaim their culture.
Levi comes from the town of Gods River, Manitoba and now resides in Oxford House. He loves to help out with any organization that needs it. Levi’s journey in Oxford House began with helping others run activities for kids, such as floor hockey, basketball and baseball tournaments. He hopes to continue learning along the way with help from others who have already helped him to become a better helper for the kids in the community to help them achieve their dreams.
Richter is an Assistant Youth Coordinator of the BCN WASAC Program and a team leader of volunteers in his community of Bunibonibee Cree Nation.
Corey is from Oxford House, Manitoba and has been working with mental health and youth for the past three years, starting when he was 19 years old. He’s a father to two kids and is always willing to learn new things and help in any way that he can.
Canaan is a new father and being a father is one of the best experiences of his life. He’s naturally a very social person and loves spending time with his family and friends. Canaan likes to go for runs, play basketball and go on walks in the woods and along the shorelines. He also likes music and listens to music often while doing things like practicing basketball or going on walks.
This team is made up of young Nisga’a folks who want to create regalia and a song with youth from their nation for their wilp potlatch. What they create will contribute to their community and will be carried and held by everyone who participates.
Aygadim Majagalee / Teanna Ducharme
Aygadim Majagalee/Teanna comes from the Nisga’a Nation in Northern British Columbia. She’s excited to be part of the National Learning Community this year and to learn from some incredible youth from across Canada.
NoxnokumGwii Tsap / Micheal Morgan
NoxnokumGwii Tsap / Micheal Morgan is Nisga’a and grew up in his home village of Laxgaltsap. He’s been immersed in his culture and enjoys dancing and drumming and is a father to two amazing children. He identifies as a two-spirited person who is reclaiming his culture every moment of every day.
FUNDERS AND SUPPORTERS
The National Learning Community is funded in part by the Canada Service Corps, a national movement that empowers youth aged 15–30 to gain experience and build important skills while giving back to their community. Learn more at Canada.ca/CanadaServiceCorps.
This year the National Learning Community is also being funded in part by the Slaight Family Foundation, Catherine Donnelly Foundation, Catapult Canada (Rideau Hall Foundation) and with support from Community Foundations of Canada.