Youth visiting Ottawa create podcast series on reconciliation

Since Wednesday, 50 teens aged 15 to 18 have been taking part in Experiences Canada’s National Youth Forum at Carleton University. (Jenna Legge/CBC - image credit)
Since Wednesday, 50 teens aged 15 to 18 have been taking part in Experiences Canada’s National Youth Forum at Carleton University. (Jenna Legge/CBC - image credit)

Young people from across Canada are creating podcasts to share what they've learned as part of a five-day educational program in Ottawa on reconciliation.

Fifty teens aged 15 to 18 are taking part in Experiences Canada's National Youth Forum, a program that aims to bring the country's youth together for leadership and learning opportunities.

With reconciliation as this year's theme, the group is spending July 3 to 7 in the nation's capital exploring cultural and historic sites and meeting with Indigenous organizations. This included trips to Mādahòkì Farm and the ADAAWE Indigenous Business Hub.

They'll be using those experiences to produce 10 podcasts, covering a variety of topics on reconciliation that pull together both their first-hand experiences and lessons they learned in the program.

While the teens are a mix of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth, they're all hoping to learn more and share their experiences.

"You would be shocked at how much a lot of the youth have been through, how much a lot of the youth actually have to say around reconciliation," said Experiences Canada outreach co-ordinator Kellen Turner.

"There have been some very hard conversations happening in these sessions. And I think it's a really great opportunity to show people that the youth are very aware of what reconciliation is and they know what they want the next steps to be."

Emmaly Teves (left) and Jorja Creyke (right) from British Colombia attended Experiences Canada’s National Youth Forum in Ottawa.
Emmaly Teves (left) and Jorja Creyke (right) from British Colombia attended Experiences Canada’s National Youth Forum in Ottawa.

Emmaly Teves, left, and Jorja Creyke, right, both came to Ottawa from British Columbia for the forum. (Jenna Legge/CBC)

Emmaly Teves is from the 'Namgis First Nation in British Columbia and said she hopes the podcasts will be heard across Canada — and even beyond.

"Just talking about reconciliation is helping it. If you don't talk about it, obviously nothing is going to be done," she said.

"Us speaking about it and doing this podcast and coming here to Ottawa to just talk about truth and reconciliation is making an effort to resolve these issues, not forget these issues."

Ethan Gallays came to Ottawa from Saskatchewan to participate in  Experiences Canada’s National Youth Forum.
Ethan Gallays came to Ottawa from Saskatchewan to participate in Experiences Canada’s National Youth Forum.

Ethan Gallays came to Ottawa from Saskatchewan. He said he didn't realize that other young people in Canada weren't being taught about reconciliation efforts. (Jenna Legge/CBC)

According to Deirdre Laframboise, the CEO of Experiences Canada, over 150 people applied for the program.

"We asked them questions when they applied, and most of them said they are from Indigenous backgrounds but don't know their Indigenous roots and history," she said.

Many students shared how they were surprised by how much they did not know about Indigenous cultures and how reconciliation can mean different things to different people.

They also said they noticed gaps in the Canadian education system when comparing their knowledge of Indigenous history and issues to their peers from other provinces and territories.

Ethan Gallays, a participant from Saskatchewan, said while he learned about reconciliation in school, he's just learning now that others had not.

"They've gone through the same schooling I have, just in a different province," he said.

In preparation for their trip, attendees took part in four bilingual webinars in April on topics including residential schools, the Indigenous economy and culture and language reclamation.

Initial work on the podcasts then began, with the taping sessions taking place in Ottawa. Once they're finished, the podcasts will be made available on major streaming platforms and through Experiences Canada.