Future leaders gather to enhance skills

Elder Gladys Wapass-Greyeyes speaks to a group of students including Grade 8 student Sydney Mouland from Pierceland Central School at the Student Leadership Cultural Camp last week.

Elder Gladys Wapass-Greyeyes speaks to a group of students including Grade 8 student Sydney Mouland from Pierceland Central School at the Student Leadership Cultural Camp last week.

by Derek Cornet

Grades 6-9 students from the Meadow Lake area spent three days at Camp Oshkidee on Jeannette Lake last week, learning what it takes to become leaders.

Created through a partnership with the Northwest School Division and the Meadow Lake Tribal Council (MLTC), the Student Leadership Cultural Camp was held June 4-6 with 48 students attending. Among the topics discussed included leadership capacity building, goal setting, entrepreneurship, communications skills, aboriginal culture and traditional teachings.

Pat Gervais, the community school coordinator with MLTC, said only two students from each school were selected to take part. They were chosen because they exhibited unique behaviours that go along with good leadership.

“We’ve got quite a mixture of kids here,” Gervais said.

Gervais went on to say even she was surprised by the leadership skills already demonstrated by the students.

“It was amazing,” Gervais said. “After our snack I hadn’t even called the group and there was a group of five boys already washing all the dishes.”

One activity the students enjoyed was building a vision board. A vision board is a piece of paper where someone writes – or glues – their dreams and aspirations. Participant Cory Green said he was being realistic with his board and what he considers a good career path.

“I intend to have something focused around filming or animation, be it cartoons or video games,” Green said as he glued logos to his board cut from magazines.

Since he already draws his own cartoons, Green one days sees himself working with the Cartoon Network or Nintendo.

Several guest speakers also travelled to the camp to speak with the students about a variety of issues.

Student Angel Keenatch said listening to the elders speak was her favourite part.

“I’ve enjoyed the teaching from the elders and them talking about how it was when they were young,” Keenatch said.

Elder Gladys Wapass-Greyeyes was among those who made the journey to speak of the nine years she spent in residential schools. She also talked about healing from the past and passed on words of wisdom to the kids gathered around her.

“We have our talents. We all have our own special talents that were gifted to us,” Wapass-Greyeyes said. “When I look at you young children, you have to listen. You are my future, you are my futures leaders.”

The camp also attempted to immerse students in experiences they may not have come in contact with previously. They included traditional Cree foods such as fish and wild game, canoeing, kayaking, round dances and a pipe ceremony.

Gervais said all the students were responding well to the leadership camp and noted they are more than ready to take on more responsibility at home and in life. She hopes they take the lessons learned throughout the three days and pass them on to their peers.

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