Youth Leadership Awards Recipients
Youth Leadership Awards Recipients
Prairieaction Foundation is proud to recognize and support these programs and young leaders who are making a difference in their communities.
News Release from the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan – Saskatchewan Youth Projects Receive Awards
Congratulations to the following 2020 Youth Leadership recipients
Healthy Youth Relationships Facilitators, Sisler High School, Winnipeg MB
This group is made up of current and former students from the school who have been trained by the CN Red Cross to facilitate presentations and workshops about healthy relationships. Over the past 2 years, they have presented to about 500 students at their school and other community middle schools. Topics include foundation of a healthy relationship, power and gender stereotypes, consent, emotional violence, communication, and conflict resolution. They seek to expand the number of presentations and host a “Day of Learning” for all grade 10 students in the school, and bring in outside facilitators to lead workshops on consent, bullying, wellness, sexual health, and community resources. This project helps students to navigate unhealthy relationships, have difficult conversations, and understand the elements of healthy relationships.
Stardale Women’s Group – Indigenous Girls, Sun Life Plaza – West Tower, Calgary AB
“The Road” project involves 25 Indigenous girls, age 10 to 17, who live in urban Calgary. The project relates to the missing and murdered women and girls who have been lost on the “Trail of Tears”, the Yellowhead Highway. The girls have the support of well-educated adults, including 2 female Elders, to create dramatic presentations to their community. Storytelling in this way will help heal and break the cycle of abuse and violence that is familiar to these girls. They will create a narrative that is both a cultural mirror and a world view for the non-Indigenous people in Calgary. The girls have little confidence and low self-esteem, and this project fosters leadership skills and personal growth as they share their stories using theatre. At the end of each performance, there is an interactive Q&A with the audience. The “Stardale Girls” become role models, and help others who are in need.
Collection Builders for Social Justice, Carlton Comprehensive Public High School, Prince Albert SK
This project is submitted by an art teacher, who has seen how impactful the arts can be in the lives of students. She required her students to do three things: to build collections of art, to complete a formal statement of intent about the collection, and to submit their work to galleries in their community. The impact of Collection Builders for Social Justice has been seen in several areas: student attendance improved, they were committed to a goal, their confidence improved, they began to take ownership of explaining their art to others, and their conversations shifted to creating understanding and in aiding the journey to reconciliation. Presently, there are over 20 students who are completing collections within the school. One student was recently recognized for her work and was given an opportunity to paint a large mural for the local mall.
I’mperfect – Imperfect: Understand Us, St. Gregory Elementary School, Regina SK
This successful initiative has been active for over 3 years at St. Gregory Elementary School. The students involved have attracted much attention for their work involving youth mental health, and have been invited to speak at conferences and in classrooms around SK. Students speak about their own vulnerabilities and insecurities, and invite students to work together to bring about change and awareness. The goal of this project is to realize the differences between how students perceive themselves and how others perceive them. They will discover invisible barriers, uniqueness, and that none of us are alone in how we feel. In both inspiring and positive ways, the discussion about mental heal continues. Facilitators will provide workshops and lessons on self-love, healthy relationships, self-regulation, and physical health, and students will create videos and speeches to present at a gala event.
Clearwater Project Venture Youth Mentors, Clearwater River Dene Nation, SK
This Project is an outdoor/experiential program for students in grades 6 to 8, with assistance from high-school students who graduate into mentors. The program is guided by traditional values as family, learning from nature, spiritual awareness, service to others, and respect. Youth develop positive image, effective communication skills, community service ethic, improved decision-making and problem-solving skills, and personal resilience. The Project involves four multi-day camps per year with an average of 20 students and 4 mentors per camp.
Safe Multi-Cultural Environment, Kinuso School, Kinuso AB
Kinuso School has a diverse population consisting of 70% Indigenous students. The hamlet of Kinuso is surrounded by Swan River First Nation and Driftpile Cree Nation. The school has developed strategies to address the challenges of cultural differences. The “Youth Truth and Reconciliation Group” was founded with a mandate of creating a cultural and environment shift to ensure a safe place for everyone. They propose the creation of “Wall of Fame” Posters of successful graduates from different cultural backgrounds. Each subject must be a graduate of Kinuso School, provide a biography, and create an inspirational message. The outcome and impact of this project will improve the school culture by providing visual messages of hope, inspiration, and success.
Peer Support Volunteers, Churchill Community High School, La Ronge SK
This project provides support, information, or referrals to students regarding common teen problems: addiction, sexual wellness, family conflict, bullying. They run year-long activities with themes relating to mental health. The volunteers are trained at a self-care retreat each spring on topics such as identity and suicide awareness. “Music for Mental Health” was one of their successful events in the past year, which featured local and school talent. As well, they presented to the Embracing Life Committee, and led 5 noon hour events and 1 dance that supported healthy relationships. The statistics continue to rise, and average 5 students per week for each volunteer. Experienced Peer Support Volunteers assist in the training of the new Peer Support Volunteers. The Volunteers have branded clothing to identify and unite them.
Kelli Lemstra, Alliance Health, Moose Jaw SK
This project began in 2016, when 15-year-old Kelli Lemstra was looking for a way to deal with challenges of bullying and mental health. She realized that youth need more resources and opportunities for help. With the help of her father, Kelli created an on-line application, and over the next 2 years the app went live. “The Daily Difference” app connected youth with mental health professionals: including a chat function and option for anonymity. Kelli reached out to the Moose Jaw Police Service for partnership, providing legal advice or help. As of January 2020, the “Daily Difference” app has over 2500 users who have downloaded and accessed information, providing much-needed support and help for youth.
Congratulations to the following 2019 Youth Leadership recipients
Peer Support Volunteers, Churchill Community High School, La Ronge SK
Peer support volunteers are chosen by the students, and are trained on broad topics such as sexual and mental, and are linked to resources in the community. The volunteers work with students one-on-one or in groups from a strength-based, harm-reduction perspective. They also provide healthy educational activities at lunch hour and after school. The funding from PAF will enhance their program, and provide support to visit with other schools, to network and share ideas.
Last year, the Peer Support Volunteers worked with 60 students aged 14 – 18 (40 female and 20 male). Activities included movie night, gym blast, “Capture the Flag”, “Kahoot Challenge”, and a dance. There were 3 suicide interventions.
GSA- Gay Straight Alliance, Valley View School, Beauval, SK
The GSA group has been active: attending summits, participating in the Pride Parades in Saskatoon and Prince Albert, meeting on a regular basis, hosting formal dances and inviting students from surrounding schools, and fundraising for the events they host.
The GSA group has boosted the students’ self-confidence, and feelings of acceptance and belonging. In their community, there are First Nation and Metis people, with whom they work. They promote education and awareness.
The PAF grant will provide funds for guidance and resources for other teachers, parents, and students: working together to make the GSA sustainable and safe. Students are encouraged to express themselves, to be courageous, and to have fun.
What's Your Frequency - Understand Us, St.Gregory Elementary School, Regina, SK
This project began with a collaboration with Wavelengh Entertainment and the SK Union of Nurses to produce a documentary, “On the Front Lines of Mental Health”. Students shared their thoughts on the youth mental health crisis and why it is important to break stigmas. From this work, students were invited to speak at conferences, and participate in Skype Sessions with middle-years classrooms in SK. The goal of the “What’s Your Frequency” Campaign is to connect students, unknown to each other, to engage in conversation to promote understanding and empathy by sharing their insecurities and vulnerabilities.
Even though they may be “on different frequencies”, they are not alone in the world. They commit to non-judgmental understanding. Students address consequences of violence and bullying, and focus on healthy relationships.
Project 104 Graffiti Team, Prairie South School Division, Moose Jaw, SK
Project 104 was created by Ms. Cori Saas of the Prairie South School Division to provide an outlet for highly creative students to connect with others and express their creativity through visual and literary art. In 2016, the students decided to use their abilities to reduce crime and gang activity by reducing and preventing graffiti in public areas.
In partnership with the Moose Jaw Police Service and the City of Moose Jaw, the students identify locations containing gang-related graffiti in parks, playgrounds, and other public areas. They design and create murals to cover the graffiti, monitor the space to prevent future graffiti from occurring, and create community engagement using site-specific art. This process takes nearly the entire school year, and requires hundreds of volunteer hours, usually on Friday nights and weekends.
To date, murals have been placed in 5 city parks, and additional murals will be developed and installed across the city in the upcoming year. This program has been instrumental in reducing gang graffiti, and its disruption to community wellbeing. Public places are safer and more appealing, and students feel like they are addressing violence in a direct way. They are part of community building and are helping to create harmony.
Survivor 101: Navigating Adolescence, Catholic Family Services, Saskatoon, SK
The Survivor 101 program offers support for students experiencing violence, mental health challenges, or difficulties thriving at school. The Survivor 101 groups meet weekly in a safe and supportive environment. The “Day by Day” handbook was created by the students to share the stories of youth and relevant information in an engaging, hopeful, and empowering format. It includes poems, stories, and art from over 28 students, and information on such topics as abuse, depression, stress, and consent.
The “Day by Day” handbook for teens was launched on September 27, 2018. The goal of the launch was to engage in conversations about youth and violence, youth and mental health, and several students spoke about their contributions. The impact on the youth involved in this project has been huge. Many of the students have been marginalized and labeled. In the Survivor 101 group, they felt like they had a place, a place they belonged, and had a voice that was important to be heard.
The PAF Youth Leadership Award will allow expansion of this project by providing additional resources to support and enhance the efforts of the student contributors. The group will purchase an IPad to use for filming student stories, making videos, and creating presentations. In addition, this award will finance program supplies for a summer group, and transportation to other schools and venues for presentations.
Mindful Creative Writing, Sheldon Williams Collegiate, Regina, SK
In February 2017, students from various cultures, religions, languages, abilities, and literacy levels came together to form the first Mindful Creative Writing Class at Sheldon Williams Collegiate. In this course, through the process of creative writing, students share themselves in deep ways, and listen as their classmates do the same. In addition, students learn mindfulness, which supports the development of compassion, tolerance, peace-building skills, authentic communication, self-confidence, conflict resolution, and kindness for self and others. Creating a peaceful world starts by creating peace within each individual. This course is scheduled to begin again in February 2019, with a new group of students.
In 2017, the Mindful Creative Writing Class students became published authors in a book published by the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation, Speak Up Inspire Change.
In 2018, the Mindful Creative Writing Class students created a video about the course and how it impacts young people. The PAF Youth Leadership Award financed this video, which has been shared with the entire school in June, and celebrated by organizations such as the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan and Mindful Schools.
Sheldon’s Mindfulness Creative Writing Class plans seeds of wisdom, tolerance, and compassion in the hearts and minds of young people; this creates a culture of inclusion and understanding, which ripples into our school, community, city, and beyond.
The hope is that PAF will continue to support the Mindfulness Creative Writing Class, and allow the students to choose the direction the money will serve. Allowing students to have ownership over how they share their voices and what their message will be is critical. Guaranteed, they will create something inspiring!
Student Leadership Team, Mother Theresa Middle School, Regina, SK
MTMS seeks to break the cycle of poverty among Regina’s youth through the application of a unique education model and innovative programs. Malnutrition, unemployment, lack of opportunity, adverse childhood experiences are a few of the inextricable realities of our students and their families; violence and abuse are also real symptoms of poverty.
A number of students have parents who are incarcerated or have passed away; many students have been physically and/or sexually abused, lived in foster care and witnessed violent acts and drug abuse in the home. These traumas affect the way our students think of themselves and impact their relationships with others. Fear, uncertainty, and past harm influences how they form their self-image, how they deal with adversity, and how they learn in school.
Violence can take many forms, but the impact is the same: girls and boys are hurt physically and emotionally, and the consequences can be felt for years. MTMS uses a Response to Intervention (RTI) model that leverages our students, and we can help improve individual challenges, enhance social and emotional well-being, and develop learning skills. In September 2018, the MTMS Student Leadership Team was created to promote intentional peer-led initiatives. Similar to other student councils, the Team provides a voice for the students and organizes school-wide events. In addition, the Leadership Team leads peer education, promotes school spirit, and places a strong focus on inclusivity (anti-bullying). The importance of promoting and exemplifying nonviolent behaviour is imperative to help decrease cases of self-harm and low acceptance.
The MTMS Student Leadership Team is charged with leading initiatives to reduce exposure to violence, cultivate a save and healthy school environment, and promote the spirit of community. Some of the initiatives of this year’s Team are
- after school sports with a focus on female participation,
- welcome breakfast,
- “The Happiness Project”,
- Spirit Days,
- pumpkin carving and Halloween Party,
- Jolly Gingerbread Jamboree Fundraiser,
- student-led outings: skating, hiking, etc, and
- inspirational speakers.
This year’s theme is “The Power of Moments”, and the Leadership Team intends to create as many powerful moments for the students as possible. The Award from Prairieaction Foundation will provide our Student Leadership Team with the resources needed to offer programming that will empower youth to change the narrative of violence.
Clearwater Project Venture Youth Mentors, Youth Leadership Camp, Clearwater River Dene Nation, SK
The Clearwater Project Venture is an outdoor, experiential program targeted to students in grades 6, 7, and 8. The program model is guided by traditional values such as family, learning from nature, spiritual awareness, service to others, and respect. This program aims to help youth develop a positive self-concept, effective social and communications skills, a community service ethic, self-efficacy, and improved decision-making and problem-solving skills. Generalized resilience is built in youth, which can be transferred to drug resistance and violence prevention.
Clearwater Project Venture implements four multi-day camps per year, with an average of 20 students and 4 mentors per camp. The program has 20 active mentors who are on their way to graduation and adulthood. A youth leadership camp will build skills among our older youth and enhance their understanding of leadership and service.
Youth Revolution Valleyview Team: Recess Guardians, Valley View School, Brandon, MB
The Youth Revolution (YR) Student Team at Valleyview School wants to implement the Recess Guardians program at their school. This program has been implemented in several schools in Saskatchewan with great success. The program trains youth to help make recess fun and interactive. It increases positive peer relationships, and helps build healthy self-esteem in students. The YR want to be trained in Recess Guardian strategies. These include such skills as
- organizing Guardian games for younger students at recess,
- encouraging participation, and
- increasing student physical activity.
The YT students are already heavily invested in creating positive school culture as well as being outstanding school and community volunteers. They have a local trainer for the program from Prairie Mountain Health Promotion who is willing to work with students and teachers. After training, students commit to running one or two Guardian Games for at lease one recess per week. The Recess Guardians lead these recess games with the younger students highlighting and supporting good peer role modeling. The YR students hope to help eliminate loneliness and foster friendship on the playground. The slogan of Recess Guardians is “Taking back the playground!”
Congratulations to the following 2018 Youth Leadership recipients
Beyond the Hurt Bullying Prevention Teams, Brandon School Division’s Youth Revolution, Youth Revolution Program, Brandon School Division, Brandon MN
Brandon School Division’s Youth Revolution (YR) students have partnered with the Canadian Red Cross (Respect Education Program) to implement and champion the Beyond the Hurt Bullying Prevention initiative in their schools and school communities. The Beyond the Hurt (BTH) is a primary prevention program that offers a holistic approach to preventing and responding to bullying and violence in schools. BTH focuses on building positive healthy relationships while being proactive in building bullying prevention skills in children and youth. Through interactive and peer to peer delivered lessons, the program builds empathy and respect among children and youth. The premise of the program is based on the belief that all youth—those targeted, those who bully, and bystanders—have a critical role in preventing bullying. BTH workshop pillars help youth and adults explore the dynamics and effects of bullying, harassment and discrimination, how to identify and support healthy, respectful relationships, how youth can use their personal power to resolve and prevent these problems, and how to find and use resources to respond to bullying and harassment
The BTH Youth Revolution school teams choose bullying prevention and awareness as one of their YR school team goals. These teams will not only teach the BTH program lessons to the other grade 5-8 classes in the school but are the leads for several positive projects. Some examples of such as events are:
Students from the BTH Youth Revolution teams support activities around Pink Day in April of each year. These students encourage their school and community to raise awareness of bullying issues and encourage others to champion positive relationships. Activities include school announcements, school assemblies, pink Day bake sales, poster contests and much more.
Students from the BTH Youth Revolution teams organize and implement kindness projects as part of their chosen “making a difference” mandate in their communities and families. These “Passion Projects” range anywhere from volunteering at our local soup kitchen/food bank, to fostering positive and lasting connection to our seniors to shoveling driveways and sidewalks in their local area.
Raising Community Awareness
Youth Revolution Students in the BTH program have promoted the program and its impact on their schools to community at large through a public presentation at the Brandon School Board of Trustees School. To view the presentation please see the following link and view at 1:10min
Clearwater Project Venture Mentors, Clearwater River Dene Nation/La Loche SK
Clearwater Project Venture (CPV) Mentors are a group of youth from La Loche and Clearwater River Dene Nation who work with the Project Venture Program, delivering CPV curriculum to youth in grades six, seven and eight. The mentors are high school students in grades nine through twelve. The CPV program returned to our community after the tragedy on January 22, 2016. The youth who work as mentors now were program participants during the original PV days.
The CPV values are: be here, be safe; let go and move on; speak your truth; care for self and others; set goals. These goals, along with fundamental life skills such as independence, leadership, self-regulation, problem solving, setting goals and communication are developed during activities, classroom and after school sessions and culture camps. These skills are taught through experiential learning activities and traditional Indigenous cultural activities. The guiding principles of this program include: culture and tradition, strength-based approach, experiential education, engagement to nature, service ethic, connection building, family, community and culture. Another large component of this program is the fostering of traditional Dene language.
The mentors are an integral piece of CPV; they are responsible for camp and activity set up and tear down, they share their traditional language and knowledge of hunting, trapping, fishing, canoeing, etc.; they are expected to embody the CPV Full Value Commitment and act as role models and model healthy lifestyles and engage in healthy relationships at all times. The CPV program works with mentors to ensure that programming is meeting the needs of the youth and addressing current challenges and trends they are facing. Although they follow prescribed curriculum, the lessons and activities themselves are unique to the values and protocols of the Dene and Metis people of La Loche and Clearwater River Dene Nation. The CPV program works to give youth and their families’ opportunities to engage in fun activities.
From Me to You - Understand Us, St. Gregory School, Regina SK
The Letter’s to No One Campaign began with students composing cards/letters from the heart where they approached people at the Northgate Mall in Regina to share their personal cards with strangers. The intention of this activity was to start students on the path of understanding how actions like these can make a significant difference in the lives of others suffering from mental health, exclusion, bullying, and violence. The next step in the project will have students involved in workshops aimed at educating students on how to eliminate the stigma associated with mental health. Students will also receive specialized training on how to eliminate bullying within their school and community. Members from the Regina Police Service in conjunction with health professionals from the Health Authority will provide training for students on recognizing the signs and symptoms of domestic violence. Students will learn about resources in the community intended to help victims of domestic violence. A final unit will be included on Power and Authority where students examine the different forms of power and authority so that they are able to differentiate between healthy vs. unhealthy forms of power and authority.
In the culminating event, students will organize a gala where they will create videos to share with the attendees to create awareness around mental health issues as they pertain to victims of violence, bullying, and/or other sources detrimental to one’s state of mind. The funds raised will be used to support Understand Us and their outreach program in the community aimed at helping those suffering. Through this project students will learn to recognize there are many people living within our school and community with poor mental health. In many cases, the mental health issues experienced may often be a result of the violence, bullying, or a traumatic event(s) individuals have experienced in their lives. Students will receive specialized training on domestic violence, where to seek help, and how to help others suffering from domestic violence. They will receive training on how to eliminate bullying in a safe effective manner. Students will learn more about the stigma that still persists in our society today regarding mental health as well as issues regarding the exploitation and sexual abuse women often endure in the workplace and community. By deepening our awareness our hope is that we all will become motivated to make positive changes to help others affected by these issues.
fYrefly in Schools, Faculty of Education, University of Regina, Regina SK
Now in its third year, fYrefly Saskatchewan is provincial educational initiative developed to help reduce discrimination against sexual and gender minority youth, increase awareness of the impacts of homophobia and transphobia, and create safe and inclusive school environments for all students. The fYrefly in Schools program employs a youth engagement model where trained youth volunteers educate their peers on the impacts of homophobia, transphobia, heterosexism, and cissexism, as well as share stories of resilience and overcoming adversary. fYrefly Saskatchewan also runs Camp fYrefly, a youth leadership camp for LGBTQ youth and allies.
Art therapy is used by counsellors around the world as a tool to treat anxiety, panic, hopelessness, and low self-esteem – mental health issues that are disproportionately observed in the LGBTQ population. Growing research shows that art therapy during the “coming out” process can enhance wellbeing in LGBTQ people. In October, 2017, fYrefly in Schools partnered with Regina art therapist Bonnie Chapman to pilot Saskatchewan’s first arts group therapy program for LGBTQ youth, entitled Healing Through the Expressive Arts. An 8-week program was designed and offered youth the opportunity to explore their identities and manage stress using creativity, art, and meditation as mediums. Each session began with a 20 minute guided meditation, followed by expressive art, and an opportunity to share what they had created and what it meant for them. The objectives of the program are to offer youth an avenue to express their coming out process through meditation, art, and group discussions, reduce isolation by connecting youth through the group process of therapy, develop skills in coping with anxiety, stress, and low self-esteem, enhance resilience and empowerment, and build leadership to support other youth in the community. Six youth participated in the program. None had ever done art therapy before, and some had never received any therapy before. Upon completion of the program, the youth offered the following feedback:
“This was my first time experiencing therapy… It helped me be calm which reduced stress levels and made me less tense, worried, and with that I had less stress headaches.”
“I was able to reduce my frustration in not knowing myself, and my feeling of isolation.”
“It helped me feel supported by others who understand, and it helped me to understand myself better.”
“It grounded me. it made me more in tune with some emotions or hidden feelings; even ones I didn’t know were affecting me.
“It was exciting, thought provoking, enlightening.”
“I really enjoyed the guided meditations. I have never done them before but I loved them. They calmed me down and brought me to a safe place in my head.”
Hudson Bay WE Schools, Hudson Bay Community School, Hudson Bay SK
The WE School students are empowered to believe that they can be positive change makers in their own community and internationally. They work to move from Me type thinking to We. This “play it forward” group does voluntary work around the community. Each year the students support our Hudson Bay Family Service and Support Center bringing in over 2,500 pounds of non-perishable food items to keep the shelves stocked. The WE Schools group canvass the town several times a year, do an Elementary vs High School non-perishable food items challenge, and fundraise at Christmas to purchase items for Christmas Food Hampers. If other volunteer organizations need manpower up they step. Last year the students raised almost $12,000.00 with Scotiabank matching to help with rent payments for our local Seniors Center. The group attends the Senior’s Appreciation supper each year to serve and mingle with the Seniors. This year the group is taking on the wish list for the Hudson Bay Hospital Auxiliary. The students have set a goal of over $10,000.00 to purchase ripple mattresses, slings, bolsters, a portable oximeter, etc. The students also provide funds for studentUfamily needs in their school.
The WE Schools group commits to at least one international initiative each year. They have raised funds for 10 mobile health clinics ($10,000.00), 3 wells for a country in need ($15,000.00), 214 goats to promote financial sustainability ($10.700.00), built a school in Kenya ($10,000.00) and worked with a school in a developing country to build a green house and provide school lunches ($15,000.00). Globally this year they are raising funds to buy school supplies for an entire school. Throughout the year the group participates in campaigns and learns about: acceptance of others culturally, emotionally and physically, advocating for literacy, hunger, cyberbullying, inclusion, sustainability, youth empowerment, reconciliation, women’s empowerment, healthy living, advocating for children’s rights, social entrepreneurship, and ethical consumerism. WE students fight apathy and know that they can make a positive difference in their community and world. WE school students stand up for others who are treated unfairly and show increased leadership among their peers. The WE Schools group have impacted the community in a number of ways; building valuable relationships, fundraising, volunteering, advocating for those in need, spreading knowledge, doing acts of kindness, improving the lives and care of others, building a tighter knit community, understanding what it means to be a part of their community and learning about and acting upon issues that affect their own neighborhood.
Mindful Creative Writing, Sheldon Williams Collegiate, Regina SK
In February, 2017, students from various cultures, religions, languages, abilities, and literacy levels came together to form the first Mindful Creative Writing class at Sheldon Williams Collegiate. In this course, through the process of creative writing, students share themselves in deep ways and listen as their classmates do the same. In addition to creative writing, students learn mindfulness which supports the development of compassion, tolerance, peace-building skills, authentic communication, self-confidence, conflict resolution, and kindness for self and others. In order for students to share deeply and authentically, special attention has to be taken to create an environment of trust, respect, and support.
Last semester, students in the course shared their varying stories of experience, growing their self-confidence as well as their willingness to hear about their classmate’s unique perspectives. One student shared her experience being a refugee from Syria, another shared about the inequities he experienced as a First Nations youth, one student shared her experience with rape, another talked about how he experienced the world differently because of his autism, and another shared his frustration with the misperceptions many people had in regards to his Muslim faith. Creating a peaceful world starts by creating peace within each individual. Through direct, meaningful, and personal contact with others very different from themselves, the students in Mindful Creative Writing learned how to communicate respectfully, peacefully, kindly, and authentically. This course is scheduled to begin again in February, 2018 with a new group of students.
As the winter 2017 semester progressed, students began to share their creative writing pieces with their school and community. Students were guided by the idea that many of the misperceptions in our world could be avoided if people had a chance to sit down together, listen, and share. These young people did just that – they shared their voices as well as listened respectfully to the voices of others. In March, 2017 the students performed for the entire school during our multicultural week celebration. Later, in June, they organized an event called Let’s Talk Culture which provided opportunities for students from different cultures to dialogue about different elements of culture between student performances of spoken word art. In addition, Sheldon’s Mindful Creative Writing students all became published authors last semester in a book published by the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation, Speak Up Inspire Change. Each student submitted a piece that encouraged readers to look at an issue more deeply.
Prairie South Treaty 4 Group, Prairie Sough Schools based out of Riverview Collegiate, Moose Jaw SK
This group of students lead by teacher Kelly Grass has undertaken a study of history and culture and has made efforts to share their learning with other schools and students. The student will often have lessons brought to them by others in the community as well. They have led a number of tipi raisings where they work together to raise the tipi while sharing tipi teachings with the observers. The students have worked together to build a drum from a moose hide and then used that drum in ceremony. They have participated in Treaty 4 flag raising. They are preparing to take part in the Grandmother Moon Ceremony with an anti-violence message to commemorate the December 6th massacre in Montreal. This group fosters care and support for each other. They have spoken to many student groups and community members about the importance of reconciliation and have collectively and independently declared their reconciliation. The group is open to any high school student in Prairie South and includes both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. The group has purchased t-shirts that they wear proudly to declare who they are. They meet at lunch time each Friday and share a meal which is sometimes soup and bannock and sometimes pizza. The positive impact on each of the students is visible. You can see the level of confidence grow in each of them. They have also impacted many other students with their messages and have raised an understanding of the importance of reconciliation.
Sheldon-Williams Collegiate Leadership 20/30 Class, Sheldon-Williams Collegiate, Regina SK
Leadership students wanted to make a difference in the lives of our students and give back to the community. By partnering with Mobile Crisis Regina, they were able to help “Break the Silence” surrounding mental health. Making May Mental Health month at Sheldon-Williams Collegiate, they brought this issue to the forefront through many events and activities. Not only did they educate the students about the importance of speaking out about mental health, many courageous conversations were had and the community at large became more aware of the stigma attached to this issue. The students-designed campaign included a student website, t-shirts for sale, awareness events, presentations in elementary schools, a school-wide day-long mental health fair, visits with politicians and presentations by mental health professionals. This culminated in a 24-hour Awakeathon with proceeds going to a community service provider. All the organized events were organized around the central themes of youth and mental health, youth and suicide intervention, and the importance of talking to others about your feelings. This has allowed the entire collegiate to become a safe place for students in need of help to find the resources they need. It was remarkable to see this transformation.
Congratulations to the following 2017 Youth Leadership recipients
Angel’s Corner - Scott Collegiate, Regina SK
The idea of Angel’s Corner – a space to raise awareness about violence and abuse against women and memorialize victims of this issue in their community – was presented to the students by their teachers who had learned of a similar project in Nunavut. The Angel’s Corner at Scott Collegiate includes four benches and garden boxes. The students began the project by researching and presenting on issues of violence against women, and murdered and missing Aboriginal women. Each student came up with a plan for Angel’s Corner. The design that received the largest number of votes from the participating students was chosen. The students had the support of their teachers, Elders, school administration, and the whole school. They received some funding for materials, and the plaque funding came from local businesses and the school. Once Angel’s Corner was completed, the entire student body, as well as local dignitaries and the media, came out to participate in its unveiling. The ceremony was planned to coincide with December 6th – the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Students provided a short, informative program and handed our white ribbons. They encouraged all in attendance to follow their lead and voice a pledge: “I swear never to commit, excuse, or remain silent about violence against women; this is my oath”. Students learned that their voices matter, and that they can help create positive change in the culture of violence against women in our society.
fYrefly in Schools - fYrefly Saskatchewan, Faculty of Education, University of Regina, Regina SK
Research has shown that across Canada, gender and sexually diverse students do not feel safe in their schools, homophobic language is commonplace in schools, and students have been verbally harassed or physically assaulted due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. fYrefly Saskatchewan is a provincial educational initiative developed to help reduce discrimination against sexual diversity and gender minority youth, increase awareness of the impacts of homophobia and transphobia, and create safe and inclusive school environments for all students. As advocates for children and youth, fYrefly Saskatchewan utilizes a Comprehensive School Community Health approach to build leadership, facilitate understanding, and align provincial priorities that involve the student voice. The fYrefly in Schools program employs a youth engagement model where trained youth volunteers share stories of resilience and overcoming adversity, and educate their peers on the impacts of homophobia, transphobia, heterosexism, and cissexism. The program enhances the wellness and capacity of students by creating awareness and reducing the incidents of, and increasing participation to stop, homophobic and transphobic bullying, harassment, and violence. Youth are supported to have a healthy sense-of-self and a healthy relationship with their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Honouring and Exploring a Vision for the Girl’s Future - Stardale Women’s Group Inc., Calgary AB
There are unique gender-based challenges that effect Indigenous girls that are often considered the norm. Some examples include: experiences of health issues, suicide, economic marginalization, racism, family violence, addiction, geographic and social isolation, residential school systems, and lack of access to social support networks and services. The “Honouring and Exploring a Vision for the Girl’s Future” project is based on the Stardale Model. The Stardale Model works on the principal of participatory design, whereby every activity, whether self-directed or in a group, requires that the participants are simultaneously part of the project design – enabling them to take ownership for the initiative and their individual learning as participants, while also affecting the direction and outcomes of the activity. In so doing, the Model has proven to effectively promote self–sufficiency and community values. The girls build leadership and communication skills, and are asked to explore their aspirations and to design visions for their future, often for the first time. The girls are given the opportunity to co-create and work alongside noteworthy Calgary artists and educators. They share a piece of their visions through various art forms that align with the cultural values of Indigenous peoples and include photographs, stories, poetry, plays, dance, song, and videos. This gives them control, connection, and meaning to learning.
North West Metis Cultural Committee Youth - North West Metis Cultural Committee, Ile a la Crosse SK
The North West Metis Cultural Committee (NWMCC) partnered with STOPS to Violence to establish an active, dynamic youth group. This group is focused on leadership development to increase the skills, knowledge and confidence of youth to address interpersonal violence and abuse in their region. The NWMCC ensures a youth-driven, peer approach that is based on collaborative input and planning, shared decision making, and active leadership roles for youth. Several of the youth have moved into active leadership roles in the delivery of learning, community action, and peer mentorship. Community action initiatives include participation in events such as National Addiction Awareness Week and Saskatchewan Violence Prevention Week, increasing awareness through public speaking, presentations, brochures, engaging other peers, creating Christmas food and toy hampers for families and Elders, and actively engaging in the STOPS to Violence provincial network. Once labelled as at-risk of not fulfilling their potential because of the impact of violence, addictions, and unhealthy relationships, several of the youth are now attending school or transitioning back into the school system. All those involved have demonstrated the wisdom, determination, and dedication to establish themselves as resilient, engaged, skilled leaders in their families and in their community. Several have become active in their community, participating on boards at the local, provincial, and national level, holding fundraising events and mentoring youth and children in the school. They also report applying the skills and knowledge developed in their personal relationships, parenting approaches, and in being a positive role model and peer mentor to others.
Prairie South Schools Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) - Prairie South School Division, Moose Jaw SK
The Prairie South Schools GSA recognizes the need of those from diverse backgrounds to support each other as they strive for equality. The group is student-formed and student-led with adult supporters from Peacock Collegiate, Central Collegiate, and Ecole Gravelbourg, and has built a strong partnership with Moose Jaw Pride. The group meets regularly to discuss issues and challenges, and to problem-solve. The Prairie South Schools GSA formed their group and obtained district-level engagement and support during the 2015-16 year. Since then, the group has participated in many Pride events, organized a flag-raising ceremony, hosted a dance, distributed posters to raise awareness, secured a positive space for students in each of the high schools and K-12 schools in the Division, taken part in diversity sessions that included all Central Collegiate students (about 500), hosted a GSA Coffee House, and encouraged diversity training for staff at Peacock Collegiate. The Prairie South Schools GSA believes that education will lead to a reduction in bullying and violence against the LGBT population. The group has raised awareness among staff and students about the value of diversity, started the conversation about equity and rights for diverse populations, and assisted those with diverse life choices to feel more supported and comfortable in their schools.