Opening the eyes of First Nations youth
A culture camp for Heiltsuk youth in Bella Bella, B.C., is part of a transformation that has essentially eliminated youth suicide and boosted graduation rates, writes Justine Hunter for the Globe and Mail.
Surrounded by hereditary chiefs wearing full regalia, Rory Housty looked underdressed in his T-shirt and ski jacket when he welcomed B.C. Premier Christy Clark and other dignitaries to his community recently for an important signing ceremony.
But the packed hall fell into a respectful silence when the young man delivered a prayer in the Heiltsuk tongue. The people in the world who can fluently speak the Heiltsuk-Oowekyala language would fill a small bus, and Mr. Housty, at 27, is one of the youngest of them.
Mr. Housty credits a local youth program, the Koeye culture camp, with anchoring him to his culture. It is a remarkable achievement that this exposure – about 20 years ago – could connect him to his remote community on the central coast of B.C., because he would spend most of the next 15 years far from home.
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