For the fourth year in a row, the Ingersoll District Nature Club enthusiastically sponsored two Ontario youth to participate in the Youth Summit for Mother Earth, organized by Ontario Nature. The 2020 Summit was held virtually from August 22-September 19, 2020.
The Youth Summit allows for outreach and connection to peers with similar interests – to forge new friendships with like-minded souls, to glean valuable knowledge, and to express their own creativity. It also provides opportunity for those young people living in urban areas to experience nature first-hand.
Overall, 92 youth, aged 14-20, and 11 youth mentors, aged 21-27, from over 50 communities from across Ontario took part in the Summit.
All had the pleasure of learning from experts and knowledge keepers in numerous workshops:
- Treaties and Indigenous politics
- Environmental policy
- Navigating activism and eco-anxiety
- Grant writing
- Learning from industry professionals
- Biocultural diversity
- Power to affect change
- Manoomin (wild rice) and Indigenous food sovereignty
- Biodiversity and the intersection of Indigenous and western sciences
- Traditional medicine
- Importance of water and interconnectedness
Those youth and mentors in attendance participated in virtual discussions and youth-led sessions on baaga’adowewin (the sport of lacrosse and its importance to Indigenous peoples), culture humility, learning Inuktitut, youth advocacy, nature dance class, and story sharing. They also participated in challenges that gave them the chance to get out into nature and connect with peers through art installations and medicine pouch creation. There was also an opportunity to work with peers and learn from one another in developing leadership and event planning skills. The keynote speaker, Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm, shared his story of activism and taught the importance of youth becoming involved in their passions.
Ontario Nature hopes 2021 will be the largest summit yet, to be held September 10-12, 2021 at YMCA Geneva Park. While the hope is to host an in-person gathering next year, the situation with COVID-19 will be closely monitored and the guidance of health officials will be followed to determine the format of next year’s event.
Ontario Nature is to be applauded for their work in ensuring the next generation of nature enthusiasts and environmentalists are educated in the importance of preserving our natural world.