Say Hi to the 2019 National Learning Community (NLC)

written by Ronald Gamblin, 4Rs NLC Coordinator

Back in November 2018, 4Rs asked young people around the country to “Come along with us as we learn what it means to move towards Indigenous centred reconciliation”. While putting out that question I honestly was not sure what “Indigenous centred reconciliation” would look like. I couldn’t really imagine it, I never really pushed for it and I wasn’t sure if I even believed in the idea. What I did know was that I — and my team at 4Rs — wanted to support these young people and their communities. From that question, we received dozens of applications, so many with promise, but in the end, we came to invite 6 teams, from the following communities, to work with us this year as part of our 2019 National Learning Community (NLC): 

Halifax, Winnipeg, Thompson, Midway, Calgary and Thunder Bay

Now as we are seeing their visions come to life, I wanted to share what I could about these amazing young people and the radical futures they are dreaming for their communities. While their goals (both personal and for their community), their direction and journeys are all very different, one thing they all have in common is that they know how they want to move towards their own “Indigenous centred reconciliation”.  

In closing, I would just like to thank all of these young people. This journey that we’ve all created on has become one of my greatest teachers in life. I’m so grateful for what has happened so far and for what’s to come. Miigwech <3 


Midway, NWT (Aka True North)

(Left to Right) Peter Greenland, Alyssa Carpenter and Jacey Firth-Hagen

Communities: Gwich’in, Dene, Inuvialuit

Team Gifts: When we think about this gathering, the image that comes to mind is ‘warmth’. Imagining a bunch of young people and elders in the middle of a field, gathered around a fire, telling jokes, sharing language, singing silly songs, and feeling the warmth of the fire together.

Vision for their gathering: To be a place of gathering for youth, elders, and knowledge holders who together can experience a traditional family-based camp that Alyssa, Jacey, and Peter, all have roots to. Connecting in to the Midway Lake music festival, at the heart of this gathering will be people, place, music, song, dance, a lot of good food (meat, fish, apiks, blueberries) and bringing back song and dance traditions like the Satu style of drum dancing (a crowd fave).

Thompson, MB (aka Kings and Queens of the North)

(Left to Right) Hunter Frank-Settee-Beardy and Majorie Kanabee

Communities: Swampy Cree

Team Gifts: When we think about Marj and Hunter, we see growth. Seeing us — 4Rs Youth Movement — supporting two capable and eager young people bringing their vision to life to help their community grow. A vision that would not only bring individual and community growth, but also growth that will last generations.”

Vision for their gathering: To bring together Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) youth from across the region and northern communities to help one another overcome and heal from intergenerational trauma. Through this gathering, the hope is to connect with other youth, and light that spark again to help out the community and future generations. “Becoming proud again. Reclaiming who we are.”

Winnipeg, MB (aka So many gays in Winnipeg)

(Left to Right) Jake Tuesday and Bronwyn MacLean

Communities: Ojibway, Jewish and Italian-Settler

Team Gifts: A trusted circle of fun. That is how we envision what Jake and Bronwyn will bring to the 4Rs community. Giving space and resources for the important work of the 2SLGTBQ+ community is something that takes careful and compassionate intentions. We get the feeling that they both know how to guide that careful work, but are doing it by making a trusted circle of fun! 

Vision for their gathering: The gathering will highlight the restorative power of having fun – bringing together food, visual art, poetry and drag performances to celebrate and care for the Indigenous queer community in Winnipeg. The hope is to inspire continuous support for the gay community and to acknowledge the work that has been done to make Winnipeg safe for young queer Indigenous folx.

Thunder Bay, ON (aka Sleeping Giants)

(Left to Right) Tehya Quachegan, Andrea Yeno-Linklater, and Lily Desmoulins

Communities: Moose Cree / Mushkegowuk, Cree and Anishinaabe

Team Gifts:  What we see is the potential, the potential for a real sense of community, one that is centred around Indigenous excellence. We see this team being a real part of the community building work happening in Thunder Bay, and 4Rs as part of that community building journey. 

Vision for their gathering: For their gathering, Tehya, Andrea and Lily hope to challenge themselves by teaching non-Indigenous youth how to be allies and empower them to stand up to racism – something they all experienced first hand growing up in Thunder Bay. Together with non-Indigenous allies, this team hopes to work hard to tackle apathy and fear and instead create a place of belonging for Indigenous youth, and welcome settler-allies into meaningful conversations about reconciliation.

Calgary, AB (aka Stampedey Boys)

(Left to Right) Joe Plant, Braden Etzerza and Nana Asante

Communities: Blackfoot, Cree, Salish, Ts’msyen, Tahltan, Metis and Ghanaian

Team Gifts: These three absolutely reminded us of a forest. A large tree that provides shade and life for the forest. The strong vines and roots that spread nutrients and holds the ground in place. Finally an ‘ocean river’, one that brings a cool refreshing breeze, but also becomes the literal life of the forest. Alone, none of these could provide for too much, but together this forest could create and support a community.

Vision for their gathering: To address the physical and cultural segregation that exists in Calgary in order to help heal the fracture between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. The hope is to build relationships and spark conversations that lead to action, and a type of reconciliation that is full of life, and injected with love and culture.

Halifax, NS (aka L’nu Crew)

(Left to Right) Hannah Martin, Brennan Googoo, Alexa Metallix and Emily Dunne

Communities: Mi’kmaq / L’nu

Team Gifts: To put simply, this team was one that just gave off strength, represented through the image of a braid of sweetgrass. Each team member weaves together in-depth structural knowledge, a close understanding of community growth, and pride in identity and culture. 4Rs is really excited to see this gathering be ‘woven’ together!”

Vision for their gathering: As a group of urban Indigenous youth, we know how hard it can be to connect to our identities while also holding down the responsibilities of school, family and friends. It can be hard to access opportunities to learn about culture without a community to put down some roots, and a network of people to learn with. By helping other urban Indigenous youth build connections to land and relationships to community, the hope of this gathering is to redefine what it means to be Mi’kmaq in the 21st century. The gathering will build relationships between urban Indigenous youth living in Halifax, connecting them to resources and a network of people who can become a sustainable community/family of support who will continue to connect them to the culture and ceremony their ancestors practiced.

“As indigenous peoples we have always adapted, but what does that mean now and how do we walk into a future continuing to strengthen our identity?”

The 2019 National Learning Community initiative is funded by the Government of Canada through their Canada Service Corps program and through a generous donation from the Slaight Family Foundation