I would like to start by thanking Silpa Suarak, a young delegate from Nain, Nunatsiavut for providing all the images you will see in this blog post and enabling me to give you a visionary experience of what transpired on the 3rd and last day of the Bridging the Gap National Youth Forum here in Winnipeg Canada.
Our beautiful and exciting day started at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. When I learned that the museum had opened last year, I had set a goal to one day visit the museum and learn more about Canada’s take on human rights. Having been able to visit the museum with Canadian Roots Exchange and fellow youth delegates from around Canada was truly a great and humbling experience. It was a journey down the memory line of what happened in Canada and even around the world in places such as Germany, Rwanda, Guatemala, and West Africa during the slavery trade and even in Ethiopia. During the walking around in the museum we saw one of the belt box which was used in 1994 election in South Africa. Also, the Ubuntu philosophy was written on the wall and some of the great people who contribute to human rights around the world and we even learned more about the indigenous history. Something which was also a mind opener and for the first time hearing about was when Viola Desmond was thrown out of the theatre in 1946 because she was black. I learned about the Black United Front and how Africville was created in Nova Scotia. This is the kind of history I never heard before and it was truly an honor to learn about what had happened. We also saw a short video clip describing the experience of racism of how it was very up all in your face in America and much hidden in Canada. I do though know about the many Black Nova Scotians who got tired of the way they were treated by the Canadian government and decided to move to West Africa where they founded Freetown which today is the capital city of Sierra Leone. The whole experience of visiting the museum was truly worth it and there was a part where our tour guide highlighted of how children in DR Congo suffer and die so we can get our cell phones. She said “The next time you think about upgrading your phone, think about what happening in Congo.” and this touched me in so many ways because I am from Congo. I want to come back to the museum one day again and explore even more as we didn’t have much time to just look around. I would like to thank Canadian Roots Exchange for organizing our visit to the museum because it was very educational and something which I have been looking forward to since learning about the opening of the museum last year.
After the museum, we got into the bus and headed for the Children of the Earth High School where we had lunch before our workshops. Yesterday I had attended the Blanket Exercise and when I learned that KAIROS organization will be doing a workshop on how to facilitator one, I didn’t even think twice by headed for it. The experience which I had yesterday was very emotional, educational and mind blowing which I would love to share with others and so I couldn’t miss the opportunity to learn how to lead one. This is a huge process in the healing and peace building process. Please visit yesterday’s blog post by clicking here to learn more about the blanket exercise. It was an honor to learn how to facilitator the Blanket Exercise and I am looking forward to sharing with others in the community and around.
After the workshops it was time for two young and exciting speakers. Our Keynote Speakers for closing of the Forum were young ladies who are great leaders in their own rights. One of them is called Sappfyre McLeod who’s originally from Jamaica, but living in Winnipeg. She’s the founder of a great non-profit organization called “Bridges Building Bridges” which creates better access to education and decrease the dropout rate in Winnipeg by speaking in Schools and elsewhere. The organization also help students with scholarships. This young woman has been very active in the community at an early age and it was truly inspiring to learn about the awesome work that she does. During her speaking she touched on few key issues but the biggest one which I would love to highlight is loving oneself. Sappfyre encouraged the delegates to love themselves and take great pride of who they are because only then can they be able to love and help others. She’s such an energetic and inspiring speaker and I was honored to be present. The other speaker was called Gabrielle Fayant who was also facilitating the blanket experiences. Gabrielle is a proud indigenous young lady who spent many years in the northern end of Edmonton, Alberta and faced countless hardships before finding herself. After going through a tough life, Gabrielle today is an inspiration to other indigenous people and she’s also the co-founder of Assembly of Seven Generation (A7G) a great youth led organization. Gabrielle is the recipient of the 2015 Indspire Metis Youth Award and has worked with many National Aboriginals Organizations. Hearing her story and learning about how she has turned her life around was very inspiring and a great message that everything is possible no matter the hardship you’re facing.
After the amazing Keynote Speakers it was now time for the closing of the Forum. Everyone thanked Vibhor, the Executive Director of Canadian Roots Exchange with a standing ovation for all his hard work and the many countless sleepless nights. Also the volunteers, staff, and those who led workshops were given a special thank you with a gift card. It was an exciting moment and yet a sad one knowing that our time together has come to an end. The mic was passed around for those who have something to say and I kicked it off by thanking the organizing team and reflected on the awesome experience that I have had for the past 3 days. I said that I was excited to share with others in Edmonton what I have learned here in Winnipeg and encouraged other delegates to do the same and not just go and chill. We were then given a break before the Talent Show started and I had to leave because Joe, a gentleman from Kenya who now lives in Winnipeg had invited me for dinner. It was the first time seeing each other since 3 years ago while on a youth exchange program with Canada World Youth. Joe’s family had hosted me while I was in Kenya and we became families. It was great to reunite with him. Upon my return from Joe’s house after 10pm, I heard that the Talent Show was a mind blowing. It looks like the Forum officially concluded on a high note as it had started. I was happy to hear that.
I would like to once again thank Canadian Roots Exchange for inviting me, thanks to the many young people across Canada for an amazing experience and thank you so much to all those who led workshops and contributed toward my learning. Thank you to the speakers and thanks to Children of the Earth for allowing us into the school. I had an awesome time and this was a great Forum which I was honored to be part of. I know more than when I came to Winnipeg and planning to share with others in hopes of bridging the gaps between members of societies and most importantly, between indigenous and non-indigenous people such as myself. Canada is full of rich history and it is time we start sharing that history in order to fully work toward reconciliation and build a greater Canada for everyone. The future is looking brighter and young people’s time to shape that future has arrived. We’re the change that we seek.
God Bless Canada
Love, Peace & Unity
One Seed At Time
Gerard Mutabazi Amani