First virtual Native Friendship Centre youth event a success

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

“The online, interactive Knowledge And Art Workshop went fantastic,” says organizer Neika Courtorielle, in a news release. “Especially for it only being the first, to hopefully many more virtual youth events. With COVID causing so many rifts in so many communities I decided it would be a fantastic idea to find a way to get the youth involved somehow.”

Courtorielle grew up in Slave Lake and her family has lived in the area for a very long time. She has been involved with the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre since 2017 or ‘18, she says. She is a youth rep for both the Friendship Centre and Métis Nation of Alberta Region 5.

Prior to the event, participants received a kit with painting supplies, a book called 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act, a notebook, reusable bag, snacks and tea.

“The virtual workshop started off with a bit of painting, the inspiration being the northern lights,” says Courtorielle. “Natasha Cunningham, the artist to host the painting portion of the youth engagement, was the brains behind the amazing idea of creating the northern lights piece.

“Part of the painting project needed time to dry,” she adds. “I took advantage of that time gap to present on some very important, unfamiliar topics. These being UNDRIP (The United Nations Declaration On The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples) and The 94 TRC Calls To Action, (The Truth and Reconciliation Commission).”

The workshop was put on through the Alberta Native Friendship Centre Association. It was for youth aged 12 to 25.

Courtorielle is excited to provide more interactive online youth engagements in the future.

“It’s a fun and interactive way to learn,” she says.

Sky Snowden (12) painted this at an online Knowledge and Art Workshop on April 23. The event was for youth 12 to 25 years old. Photo courtesy of Neika Courtorielle.

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