Thunder Bay youth challenge what it means to celebrate

For many of us across this part of Turtle Island (a.k.a. Canada), the year 2017 has been a weird one.

Surrounded by never-ending patriotic events and mountains of 150 branded merchandise, it has been hard to leave home or go online without being confronted by narratives of colonialism. For a place led by politicians that use language like to “decolonization” and “nation-to-nation” relationships, I wonder, is this really what reconciliation looks like?

A group of young people in Thunder Bay, Ontario have pushed the fireworks aside to focus instead on the celebration of grassroots stories and relationships. Through a project called Bridging Resistance, Sarah Nelson, Farah Ahmed and Jayal Chung are connecting Indigenous and non-Indigenous people through radio. The group is looking to offer positive narratives of what it means to live in their city with new opportunities for people to connect and exchange perspectives. In particular, they are centering decolonial narratives of resistance, resurgence, and hope of Indigenous and racialized peoples.

An important part of this work has been prioritizing relationships, responding to what the community wants to talk about and approaching these stories through evolving friendships rather than extraction. “Caring and kindness are so important in how we are approaching each step of this work. We are thinking a lot about relationships and how we can represent people and their stories appropriately,” they explain.

So far the team has hosted two episodes exploring topics like what it means to celebrate the year 2017 and how people in Northwestern Ontario are navigating relationship to place and connection to land. Future episodes will explore poetry and art as healing, and local efforts to create dialogue around the violent history of Canada including residential schools. 

Bridging Resistance is supported by LU Radio and the Thunder Bay Art Gallery with funding from the Laidlaw Foundation and the Government of Canada through the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th.

For more information you can check out their website and Facebook page.

Lindsay DuPré is a Métis youth mobilizer currently living in Toronto on Dish With One Spoon territory. Her work is grounded in a deep respect for storytelling and commitment to strengthening the growing network of Indigenous youth fighting for social and environmental justice.

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