By Arlo White

During the Youth Summit for Mother Earth I was honoured to be sponsored by Blue Mountain Watershed Trust to enjoy hearing guest speakers who taught us knowledge on the environment and indigenous communities and culture. The summit was a life changing experience. Everyday there were live workshops streaming from all over Canada with such a wide variety of topics for
us to explore. With opportunities to explore knowledge and concepts as well as to participate in super fun and engaging challenges, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Throughout the summit they offered opportunities to apply the skills and knowledge by doing a group leadership project aiming to help people protect the environment and learn more about interconnectedness of the world around us. The event was such a memorable experience and gave me so many valuable skills and knowledge. I am so glad that I was invited to participate this year!

My highlights of the event were learning all about traditional medicine with Beedahbin Peltier. He was walking us through the forest with his kid talking about how important nature is and how important it is for us to respect it and help it out. I thought it was really cool how he said that people call nature a wildlife saying that it takes care of itself, but that it is actually more like a
garden. Everything pitches in to help it become a healthy balanced ecosystem that provides for us. For example, the worms in the earth bring nutrients available to the plants, the animals help to spread seeds and pollinate them, the wind disperses seeds and makes sure that everything is strong and the right temperature and so on. He also talked to us about how we have our parts just like everything else and that we need to remember that instead of just tearing it up and thinking it will just repair itself.

Another highlight were the independent challenges, especially the challenge where we were taught all about medicine bundles and were encouraged to make our own. I had so much fun making my medicine bundle and learning all about how it is made and what it’s purpose is. I thought the challenge was such a cool idea that I tried very hard to make it look just like the traditional ones and used real leather, hand dehydrated and picked a whole bunch of plant medicines to put in the bundle, as well as learned about some animal medicine so that I could put a frog on the front of it. I am so proud of the end result and will keep it as a memory of the youth summit for the rest of my life.

I learned so much during the Youth Summit for Mother Earth. Something that I really liked learning was about all of the Indigenous communities in Canada. I have never really learned anything about indigenous communities, even after trying so hard to do so. In the summit they talked all about the culture, history, the basis of their beliefs, challenges facing indigenous peoples, and even how to read anishinaabemowin and the definition of some key phrases. All of this was so interesting to me, especially because I had very little knowledge on these subjects before. I found all of the information super valuable, especially at this point in time with all of the tragic discoveries being found. Some other highlights of things that I learned were about some traditional activities and concepts in Indigenous communities such as beading, herbal medicines, story telling, and using nature to make really cool and environmentally friendly things.