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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 28, 2003 - Issue 90


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The Power of Telling Your Story

by Nadia Sammurtok Thunder Bay Independent Media Center

This is an article regarding a conference that was held in Iqaluit, Nunavut from May 15 - 18, 2003. It was called The Power of Telling Your Story: Youth Engagement Conference.

A conference held for young people is an experience that is often not forgotten, especially when it focuses on something as serious as suicide.

Suicide is one of the biggest, most serious issues we face today and we have to realize that its not just going to go away just because we want it to. We need to do something about it and that is exactly what the Telling Your Story conference was based on. The purpose of the Telling Your Story conference was to focus on storytelling. We learned that storytelling brings elders and youth together, and it teaches the youth that these stories help shape our lives.

After listening to a number of the elders' stories, we were separated into four groups. Each group discussed different ideas on respect, understanding and listening and what they mean to us. We then came together as one group and shared our ideas with the rest of the youth.

We also talked about what we might need in our communities for the young people, and the youth were able to come up with a lot of ideas on projects we can work on when we go back to our communities. Some of the youth talked about starting up a radio show based on suicide, with a panel made up of all age groups, including youth, middle aged, adults and elders. We also came up with having magnets brought into each home with emergency contact numbers of people from our communities that we could talk to if we are going through a crisis or if we feel we just need somebody to talk to.

A bunch of the youth, including myself are currently working on filming a video on suicide prevention awareness, with the help of Jackson Lindell and a lot more. The video is coming along great, and we are planning on getting together sometime in the near future to do some more planning and to further discuss our ideas for the video. I really like how this video will consist of youth from all over Nunavut because then more people will have a chance to see it. People from all over Nunavut will be interested in watching their family and relatives talking to other youth and anybody else who are watching, encouraging them that no matter how big the problem might seem at the moment, in reality it too shall pass. There is no problem so big in this world that you cannot overcome. You have to tell yourself and believe that you can do it because if we work towards what we feel in our hearts, we can do so much.

I just want to thank everybody who put this conference together. You guys did an excellent job in helping to create such an event. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet and become friends with all of the other youth who attended, they really are something special to be doing all that they are doing and being who they are. Suicide is often referred to as the silent killer and because it is not discussed too often, it needs to be brought out into the open, and this conference did just that. I especially want to thank the youth and the elders for taking the time to leave their homes and their jobs and flying to Iqaluit to take part in this event. If not for them, this conference never would have been such a huge success.

This conference taught me that even though I am still only a teenager, I still play a big role in helping to make life somewhat easier to those who are going through a rough time. This conference gave me the confidence to go and do something. Again Thank you.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

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