Last week, Minerva launched Indigenous Roots, Canada’s first outdoor leadership program for Indigenous girls. This ground-breaking initiative began with a five-day retreat at beautiful Camp Squeah, nestled in the mountains of Hope. Girls ranging in age from 13 to 18 gathered for this first of many adventures to come.
The bus ride to the camp was quiet. The shyness around meeting so many new people and the uncertainty of what lie ahead had set in. Throughout the week, these young women began to develop a sense of trust—in their own voices as well as in the support they could depend on from the group. Camaraderie and communication were strengthened as girls experienced firsts in the wilderness: first time starting a campfire, first time building a shelter, first ever taste of a s’more. A new closeness was felt as they shared stories and songs in a circle every evening, making going to sleep by the time of ‘lights out’ a difficult task. The bus ride home was not quiet. Instead, it buzzed with the excitement of new friendships, experiences, and the promise of a full year to connect with nature as well as themselves.
Indigenous young women are the fastest growing demographic in Canada, with Indigenous youth growing at a rate of 3.86 times faster than the non-indigenous population and the Indigenous female population growing at a rate of 5 times that of non-indigenous women. The capacity of these young women to be resilient, to lead, and attain their full potential will have a profound impact, on their communities and on the whole of Canada’s economy and society.
Indigenous Roots participants will encounter outdoor and cultural experiences. They will be provided opportunities to gain a sense of community within the group and within their communities. The pillars of the program will allow participants to become committed to themselves, their peers, their learning, land, culture and experience.
Minerva is looking forward to walking along side the truly amazing young women who are part of this program and sharing in their journey throughout 2017.
We would like to sincerely thank our partners who have enabled to launch this transformational program for Indigenous girls including: