Culture

Intergenerational innovation

Indigenous people have always been and will continue to be innovators, writes Dee Thomas-Hart

Tansi, Boozhoo, my name is Dee Thomas-Hart. I am Young Woman who Stands Among Eagles and I represent the Bear Clan. Born and raised in Winnipeg, MB Treaty 1 Territory and Homeland of the Métis, a member of the Peguis First Nation and an Ojibway-Cree Woman, I’d like to call myself a future leader and change maker. I am a student at the Adam Beach Film Institute and my passion is creating positive change.

Last year I was invited to attend the National Association of Friendship Centre’s first ever Indigenous Innovation Summit in Winnipeg. I represent a few national charitable non-profits that focus on youth-led reconciliation initiatives and was asked to represent the 4Rs Youth Movement on a panel at the summit about “Intergenerational Innovation.”

The panel included two well-known Elders and knowledge keepers and three youth. The discussion, in front of a theatre full of conference attendees who’d traveled from across the country, was open and casual.

We talked about culture and the revitalization of storytelling and language, the nature of getting Elders and youth together in dialogue, sharing teachings and the importance of passing these traditions on.

The Elders were exceedingly impressed with our knowledge of our spirit names, traditional clans and ultimately our pride for our cultures. The youth on the panel, including myself, were focused and hungry for their educational thoughts, knowledge and the things they had to say. The Elders left us wanting to learn more about our own traditional ways of knowing and teachings.

The whole experience left me in thought. I have been thinking about this one thing ever since: Indigenous people have always been and will continue to be innovators.

We have always found ways to be innovative in many different fields. For example, in communications, finding new ways to talk to each other and getting over language barriers. This led to trade, and establishing routes and networks. Another area is in arts through beading, painting, pottery and beyond. This is because Indigenous innovation is based on Creation.

After realizing this, I believe this idea will be integral to the way I perceive everything. It’s such a powerful thing to learn about yourself and your cultures, and to know you are innovation itself and resilience born strong.

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