About 300 First Nations youth are gathering in Saskatoon this week for a national summit.
The Assembly of First Nations National Youth Summit runs from Tuesday until Thursday at Teachers’ Credit Union Place.
Noel Joe, who is one of the co-chairs of the AFN National Youth Council, says First Nations young people will dialogue on a number of topics over the next four days.
“The topics and issues that we’re touching on is justice, health and social, economic development, rights based recognition, culture and language, education…”
Joe adds one of the main goals of the event is to get feedback from First Nations youth in order for the council to set priorities for the next five years.
The summit is open to First Nations young people from across Canada between the ages of 16 and 30.
Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde was one of the opening speakers at the youth summit on Tuesday morning.
In his address, the FSIN Chief challenged delegates to take on leadership roles and breakdown stereotypes.
“Because you are breaking down that stereotype that Indigenous peoples are drunk, stupid, lazy and on welfare,” he says. “That’s not us.”
The keynote speaker was child rights’ advocate Cindy Blackstock.
The executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada encouraged youth delegates to practice something called “mosquito advocacy” in reaching their goals as part of Indigenous social movements.
She says being small and persistent, like a mosquito, is not necessarily a bad thing.
“Small groups are creative, are passionate, you can move quickly – just like the mosquito,” she says. “They have got nothing really to lose, if you stand on principle. Large organizations, like corporations or governments, have a lot to lose.”
Other prominent keynote speakers to be featured in coming days include former Olympian Waneek Horn-Miller and Saskatoon entrepreneur Kendal Netmaker.
The event is being co-hosted by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and the Montreal Lake Cree Nation.
This is the fourth year of the youth summit.