2017 ELI Gathering
This year’s Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI) Gathering marked the fourth year since its inception. The Gathering has been hosted by youth organizations in Janvier and Fort Chipewyan. Sekweha Youth Centre (Sekweha) hosted the ELI Gathering at Little Big Lake, located on Chipewyan Prairie First Nation (CPFN) traditional territory. Approximately 50 youth from Sekweha and the Lake Athabasca Youth Council (LAYC) participated in the event held August 20 – 23, 2017. Additional attendees included elders, community members and SCI partners and guests from various organizations.
The integration of aboriginal culture, language, values and traditions is seen as a formative part of a youth’s identity and educational experience within the community. This combination of cultural and traditional identity and education is in part actualized through Sekweha and LAYC’s programming, and specifically through experiential learning activities, such as the annual ELI Gathering, which help youth “walk in two worlds”. This year’s activities included beading, traditional food preparation and first aid. CPFN elder, Elder Agnes took the youth on a medicine walk, where participants sought out medicinal plants and learned their use and significance. Youth also participated in Dene and Cree language lessons, taught by local elders. Youth were given opportunities to participate in a tea boiling and fire making contest, as well as drumming and hand games to end each day.
Lisa Murphy, local teacher and LAYC Board Chair said "the ELI gathering has always been important to me since the first one I attended in 2014 as a new teacher to Fort Chipewyan and Alberta. The lessons I learned at that gathering have carried through to my fourth year at Athabasca Delta Community School. This year’s highlight was seeing old friends, eating the amazing food (dry fish especially), and going canoeing with a Fort Chipewyan youth. It was a very well organized event and I can't wait until the next one."
Youth attendees said they particularly enjoyed the medicine walk through the forest, canoeing and the fire making contests.
Chief Vern Janvier, on behalf of CPDFN Chief and Council, thanked Sekweha for their “excellent leadership and community initiative” in hosting the 2017 ELI Gathering, noting that it was a great success as it “allowed leaders of our community to organize and share their distinct Chipewyan Dene culture and knowledge with other Canadians from our region. Hosting this event along the shore of Twas Cho (Little Big Lake) allowed the youth to celebrate the beauty of Canada’s landscape and teach their traditional knowledge to others.”
This year’s ELI Gathering would not have been possible without community and SCI partner (ConocoPhillips, Imperial Oil Ltd, Nexen, Suncor Energy) support. Aligning with CANADA 150 celebrations, this year marked a special celebration of Canada’s founding, and the Gathering was blessed with funding by the Government of Canada through the CANADA150 grant program. Our 2017 Gathering would not have been possible without CANADA 150. Thank you, Marsi!
Check out the 2017 ELI Gathering photos in our photo Gallery!