Scholars joined UNESCO Indigenous Child Ambassadors Sydnee Wynter, Bella Morrisseau-Whiskeyjack and youth Adelyn Sophie-Newman-Ting, to celebrate International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
The issues discussed included language, culture, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and residential schools.
The youth who attended discussed these issues from their point of view.
Nine year old Bella Morrisseau-Whiskeyjack from Saddle Lake Cree Nation in Alberta, won silver in 2019 at the UNESCO child author competition with her short book Honour the Treaties.
She talked about residential schools and its impact on her family.
“It was a really hard time for my family and I because I have quite a few family members who had experienced Residential Schools,” Morrisseau-Whiskeyjack told APTN News. “When we found out about all those children, and think about all those people and how hard it must have been to go through that.”
This roundtable provided a rare opportunity for the young to have their voices heard.
Morrisseau-Whiskeyjack said children need to be heard more.
“Children have a very unique perspective I think on everything,” she said.
Her grandfather, Merle Morrisseau agreed, “sit down with your kids, sit down with your grandkids, hear them, hear them clearly,” he said. “They will open up doors for you to hear and see things and go…’OK, I do want to make things better.’”
With the day being International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, family were asked to teach and to learn from the next generation.
Shaelyn Wabegijig, from the Kawartha World Issues Centre told those at the roundtable that she will be spending the day teaching her younger family members.
“To teach them about this day, and what it means and how it is connected to what is happening in the world,” said Wabegijig.
“And I urge you to do the same with the children in your life.”