*This blog post, as it will always be, is from my perspective, with all of my various privileges and identities together. Totally message me if I missed something or said something that is oppressive, I would like to recognize it and change it. I also want to recognize that it’s not in french or any other language, which sucks*
So, we are almost one month into our trip, and here I am only posting the first update/blog post full of musings now! Sorry! It’s been a whirlwind adventure getting to this part.
Today I am sitting in a old apartment hearing the traffic of Treaty One Territory bustling around. Www.native-land.ca has helped us with some sort of idea of who this land originally belongs to and still belongs to. Although the creator of this website state that Treaty One Territory is Ojibway/Chippewa, Cree and Métis, that only begins to scratch the surface of the multiple ways the state has bulldozed, relocated, committed genocide and erased other indigenous folks. We recognize where we are to remember that that history (and all the things happening right now) is part of us, our film, and how we move through the world as people who are not native to this land.
I’ve been feeling pretty burnt out. It’s been a long month, and it feels like we’ve been on the road forever. Sometimes we miss home, and we blow a tire and we need to decide if we can make it to a city two hours away without a catastrophe. Sometimes we drive 17 hours because, you know, why not? Sometimes you really start to feel how far away you are when you see a sign for a place you’ve never been, and it sinks in a bit that your body is there.
The feeling, however, of being rejuvenated by this work is reversing the burn out. I know some of you know this, but there was a lot of times before we started this project where people, even in our own activist/social justice communities, told us that the youth we were looking for didn’t exist. That’s super messed up right? What a weird thing to say to people who were going to spend the next two months/maybe the next few years going out to hear their stories. It’s like saying that an orange doesn’t exist just because you haven’t seen one or heard of one.
Let me tell you, oranges exist. These youth exist and they are PHENOMENAL. They don’t quit. They are frustrated, angry, raging, hopeful, dynamic, sharp, joyous explosive forces that are starting something huge. The ‘youth are our future’ stuff is wrong, cause this stuff is happening right now. Every time we finish and interview or a workshop, we are so ready to keep going, feeling so grateful youth even want to share with us.
Youth: You are amazing. Keep learning, keep growing, keep reaching, keep sharing. Never stop because someone might not believe in your existence. Your experiences, actions, movements, laughter and tears are all real and valid. You are real. I’m at a loss of words of how incredible you are, and can only say “Thank-you”.
Everyone else: Shape up! Do you want an intergenerational movement towards a better world? Stop shutting your spaces from youth. Start making things accessible. Stop making things hard for people to be involved with. And by youth, I don’t mean 19-25. We’re fine. I mean kids and teenagers, who are at a time when these stories, experiences, learning opportunities, and more are so vital.
Need advice? Talk to youth, talk to other activists, talk to teachers, talk to people who work with youth, make connections, recognize the problems with seeing youth as ‘adults in training’ or ‘the future’ or putting them all into the same box.
I want to recognize the youth that are struggling because they feel invalidated by the older folks around them. I want to recognize the folks (who are old and young) who do work with youth to try bridge that gap. I want to recognize that youth are powerhouses of strength and perseverance in their various identities. I want to recognize the revolution youth have been in for generations.
Like when juice of a peeling orange hits you in the eye, you can’t deny it’s existence any longer. If this trip has taught me one thing, it’s that everything we thought we ‘knew’ was wrong.
Respect existence or expect resistance,