In honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day, this Sunday June 21, 2020, Xyólheméylh asked all British Columbia Indigenous children and youth what being Indigenous means to them. They were asked to express their thoughts in writing in four categories – ages 3 to 6; ages 7 to 10; ages 11 to 14 and ages 15 to 24. The winning entries were chosen by a panel consisting of Xyólheméylh’s Board of Directors and Elders Advisory Committee.
Children and youth expressed their hopes and dreams, their pride in being Indigenous and the importance of culture and community. They also addressed the history of colonization and the intergenerational pain caused by residential schools. Here are a few samples of the winning entries:
“Being Indigenous means love to me.”
– Chloe, 5
“Being Indigenous means I am never alone, my ancestors are always watching over me. I need to honour my ancestors and my community by living healthy and learning the language and teachings.”
– Cameron, 8
Means taking a stand
Being part of a community
But strongest when hand in hand”
– Bella, 13
“Being Indigenous means being thankful for life and what we have. Our drums, our spirit, and our voice! It’s about remembering who we are and letting that shine through wherever we go. It’s also about remembering our history and looking back at how far we have come, to who we are as people today.”
– Alyssa, 16
“Proud…strong…brave…kind is Indigenous. Sharing…caring…traditional…loving is Indigenous.
Land…hunting…fishing…resilience is Indigenous. Sun…raven….language…responsibility is Indigenous.
Powerful…proud…family…home is Indigenous. Dancing…drumming…singing…regalia is Indigenous
These are the words our children used to tell us what being Indigenous means to them.
To those who suffered, to those who came home and showed us the way we honour you. Your journey continues to inspire and guide us,” said Marion Mussell, Board of Directors President.
“As an agency our goal is to continue to walk alongside children, families and communities as we reflect and celebrate cultural diversity of the First Nation, Metis and Inuit children and families across the country that we are blessed to serve. We are so delighted to have received so many entries from children and youth across the province voicing being proud of their inherent right to their cultural identity; knowing who they are and where they belong,” said Penny Trites, Executive Director, Staff and Community Relations.
List of all the Winners
Age 3 to 6 Category
First Prize: Chloe
Second Prize: Lorenzo
Third Prize: Creedence
Age 7 to 10 Category
First Prize: Cameron
Second Prize: Sebastien
Third Prize: Katlin
Age 11 to 14 Category
First Prize: Bella
Second Prize: Nevah
Third Prize: Serenity
Age 15 to 24 Category
First Prize: Alyssa
Second Prize: Sasha
Third Prize: Santino
In addition to holding the writing contest, Xyólheméylh is also marking National Indigenous Peoples Day with a video featuring drumming and singing by staff member Justin Williams and listening to the voices of two our elders’ advisory members Violet George and Arlene Heese.
LÉTSÉ MÓT TÉ SQWÁLEWEL – “With a good mind, a good heart, and good feelings”
Penny Trites, Executive Director Staff and Community Relations
604-798-1570 / Email: [email protected]