The totems outside the Gathering Place

Voices – Reflections on Summer

January 16, 2021

Words from Indigenous youth on COVID, racism and mental health

Every summer, students in Vancouver Island University’s su’luqw’a’ Community Cousins Indigenous mentorship program organize free summer camps for Indigenous youth. Called Thuy’she’num Tu Smun’eem: Building a Foundation for our Youth, these camps aim to encourage Indigenous youth to consider post-secondary by giving them that important first introduction to university life and showcasing the supports VIU offers all students.

Due to the pandemic, the 2020 summer camps were revised to an online summer mentorship program rather than the in-person camps that typically happen at VIU’s three campuses in Nanaimo, Cowichan and Powell River. The youth and the camp coordinators adapted to this new version of being together and created a community through Zoom. There were seven weeks of learning, drumming, spending time with Elders, writing and reflecting.

“The closing ceremony included presentations from the youth which were impactful, thoughtful and honest,” says Sylvia Scow, VIU’s Manager of Indigenous Protocol, who oversees the mentorship program. “Their understanding and self-awareness were reflected in their writing, and this journal/booklet is a positive message that Indigenous youth are strong, resilient and smart individuals who know who they are as Indigenous people and are aware of the challenges ahead. Their commitment to this project and for sharing their truth is an indication of the good work they will do in the future.”

Read Voices of Summer

Voice of Summer booklet cover

Voices of Summer booklet

Special thanks to The Peter Cundill Foundation for their continued support in working with, and creating opportunities for, Indigenous youth.

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