Gwich’in youth ponder futures at education forum

Gwich’in youth ponder futures at education forum
Youth gather in Fort McPherson for the Youth Education Forum on Mar. 13-16, organized by the Gwich’in Tribal Council.Photo: Gwichin Tribal Council.

Thirty Gwich’in youth now have the tools needed to succeed at postsecondary school thanks to an education forum held in Fort McPherson earlier this month.

The event, which ran Mar. 13 to 16, was a great opportunity for youth to think about their future after high school, according to facilitator Jennifer Greenland.

“I think this really helped them figure out what they want to do,” she said.

Greenland facilitated the Youth Education Forum with the help of Jordan Peterson, Jordan Koe and other Gwich’in Tribal Council staff.

Greenland called the event a great success and said they are planning on making it an annual event.

The purpose of the forum was to give students in Grades 10 to 12 more information on postsecondary school opportunities.

It included numerous panels and presentations on career planning, applying to postsecondary schools and seeking funding.

“We had 30 students register and throughout the weekend they participated in all the events, asked questions and became close with the presenters from the University of Alberta and Yukon College,” Greenland said.

In addition, students were given information on various life skills that will become useful while going to college, like keeping up with their studies and campus life, budgeting, grocery shopping and using the various support systems in place on campus.

“Most of the students knew what they wanted to take at (the University of Alberta) so they have a goal set now,” Greenland explained, adding that many Gwich’in students are planning on attending Yukon College in Whitehorse first to upgrade courses before heading to Edmonton.

Students also took part in a 500-word essay writing contest, with topics like “Why culture is important to me,” “Tell us about an elder who is a role model to you” and “Why is it important that elders and youth work together?”

Jordana Itsi, Arlyn Charlie and Jessi Pascal each took home a laptop for their top entries.

In addition to the events held at Chief Julius School and the community complex, students went out to Joanne Tetlichi’s camp along the Peel River on Saturday.

They participated in games and sat with Tetlichi as she told them stories and shared tea and trifle.

Naomi Peterson, 19, of Inuvik attended the forum for three days.

“I took part in everything they did, pretty much,” she said, “asking a lot of questions and talking to everyone.”

After attending the forum, Peterson said she now has her sights set on the faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta.

“I really enjoyed the whole weekend and I can’t complain one bit,” she said. “If I were to talk to youth about postsecondary, I would say come out to these kinds of opportunities and try new things to see if you like it or not. You’ll never know if you don’t try. You can’t score if you don’t shoot.”

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