In a place where almost 50% of the population is under 20 years of age, the Gwich’in Tribal Council is making strategic investments in the futures of their young people. Their hope is that by helping to excavate the unique talents of the next generation that they will develop strong skills for Leadership and through the nature of this shared adventure, will deepen the bonds that unify their northern communities.
Each day of their adventure this summer provided opportunities for them to step out and beyond what was familiar to them and to truly embrace their own spirits of adventure. While some of the youth had certainly spent time on the land with their families before, for many it was their very first time paddling a canoe or sleeping in a tent in their Traditional Territory.
Leaders of the Day’s powerful “Learner to Leader” approach engages young people in the very hands-on challenges and problem solving that accompany an arctic river voyage. The very intentional design of the program helps to extract the skills that they are learning and practicing and makes them intensely relative for life after this adventure. Trust, generosity, judgment, cooperation and courage are all valued qualities in future leaders.
The concept of this unforgettable “Journey Home”, designed in collaboration with Elders and the Gwich’in Leadership is powerful in so many ways. As youth cross over the threshold of their everyday experiences and have the incredible opportunity to travel in the footsteps of those who came before them, coming “home” takes on a whole new meaning. It honours and recognizes youth for the positive choices they are actively making and reinforces that people will gather to celebrate their strengths and be proud of the strong people they are striving to become.
Here's what one of the students had to say when asked about the experience: