Creating safe spaces for Indigenous youth to build strong community and cultural connections is the goal of the Georgian Bay Anishinaabek Youth (GBAY) – an Indigenous youth-led organization working in partnership with the Georgian Bay Biosphere (GBB) that was founded in 2018.
GBAY works with many partners across the region including First Nations, non-profits, and schools. Anishinaabe ininemowin (thought/philosophy) is the foundation of GBAY, and their projects and programming are connected to Anishinaabe aadziwin (cultural land-based learning).
Wiigwaas Jiimaan (Birch Bark Canoe)
GBAY’s first project was building a wiigwaas jiimaan (birch bark canoe) in October of 2019. The wiigwaas jiimaan is deeply rooted within Anishinaabek identity and culture. It connects people to the water, to the land, and to each other. With community support, and guided by the expertise of the jiimaanke (canoe building) team, the jiimaan was built by a group of youth, knowledge holders, and community members in 19 intensive and beautiful days. Oshkinigig is the name of our jiimaan which loosely translates to “The New Ones.”
Oshkinigig is meant to be paddled and has traveled hundreds of kilometers on the water since 2019. When not being paddled, she is housed at Killbear Provincial Park and is considered a “living exhibit” as Killbear staff can use her as a teaching tool. GBAY members take Oshkinigig from the exhibit often as she is paddled and attends events throughout the year.
GBAY makes dozens of visits per year to the Indigenous studies classes at Parry Sound High School. In an era of reconciliation, it is necessary for Indigenous youth to see their realities as caretakers of the land reflected throughout Mnidoo Gamii (Georgian Bay).
GBAY engages with hundreds of Indigenous youth throughout Turtle Island (North America). Since 2019 they have:
- Hosted virtual visits with guests including Waubgeshig Rice and Chief Lady Bird
- Virtual workshops such as the five-part ‘Cooking with Anishinaabe Foods’ series
- Partnered with Shawanaga First Nation, Wasauksing First Nation, Magnetawan First Nation, and Moose Deer Point First Nation on various projects including:
- Five-day Hide Tanning Camp
- Five-day Mkak (Basket) Making
- Bemishkaajig, four-day canoe trip on Mnidoo Gamii
To learn more, follow GBAY on social media @GBAnishinaabekYouth and visit: https://georgianbaybiosphere.com/anishinaabek-youth/