Monthly Archives: August 2015

Skátne Ionkwatehiahróntie’ – “Our Families Grow Together” GoFundMe page

http://www.gofundme.com/land-youngparents

Skátne ionkwatehiahróntie’ is a youth-led grass roots program dedicated to supporting young families under the age of 25 in parenting and caring for children, including young parents, pregnant women and couples, youth thinking of starting families as well as sibling caregivers, aunts, uncles, step parents, two spirited and LGBTTIQQA community members.

The mission of the group is to explore and decolonize child development, sexual health, and parenting through an arts-based look into our Haudensosaunee seven rights of passage ceremonies, creation story and other land/traditional knowledge. This program also aims to combat the shame, stigma and “failed” labels young parents face with empowerment and cultural restoration.

Using traditional teachings as the root, the program also helps to heal and understand the effects of generational trauma from residential schools and colonization.  We weave together theories of attachment and security with Haundenosaunee Rites of Passage, land and ceremonial Teachings to explore reproductive health and parenting as a package, from safe sex tools to defining consent and boundaries to deconstructing healthy relationships to understanding the behaviour of children as a result of our own.


(Learning traditional medicine preparation)


(learning about the body through planting and our Creation Story)

Through these teachings in the land, we explore our relationships to our bodies, to the Earth and to our ancestors.

As a second layer, the program uses interactive activities and art-therapy/art-education models to work towards this decolonization of sexual and reproductive health as well as  colonial models of health.


(At the end of each week, we draw/write/paint in response to our teachings, discussions and play.)

The young parents group has thus far successfully completed two sessions, each lasting 10 weeks. There is a growing demand and waiting list of young parents, parents-to-be, and youth wanting to participate in the program both within the community and outside.

Funding this program will allow us to continue developping and offering the program and will help us towards sustainability with the other organizations in the community and long term funders. Meeting our goal would allow us to provide a year’s worth of programming totaling 30 weeks which includes facilitator fees, art supples, elder honorariums, and food.

Please support Indigenous young parents to parent and support youth to develop, love and grow themselves. As an Indigenous young parent myself, I know how important support, education and culturally safe spaces are to parenting and my own identity development.

We are important too.

(Learning about tracking our moontime and what role it plays as life givers and as women)

To see what we’ve been up to, visit https://www.facebook.com/OurFamiliesGrowTogether

TEESPRING CAMPAIGN FOR INDIGENOUS YOUNG PARENTING PROGRAM

Support the continuation of Skatne Ionkwatehiarontie (Our Families Grow Together), a youth-led and grassroots Haudenosaunee parenting program for young parents under the age of 25. Participants include young parents, pregnant women and couples, youth thinking of starting families as well as sibling caregivers, aunts, uncles, step parents, two spirited and LGBTTIQQA community members.

The mission of the group is to explore and decolonize child development, sexual health, and attachment parenting through an interactive and arts-based look into our Haudensosaunee seven rights of passage ceremonies, creation story and other traditional knowledge.

As a second layer, the program aims to reduce the stigma young parents face by empowering them through story sharing, elders, cultural teachings and art-processing.

The program is closing it’s second 10 week session. Check out our facebook page for more information: www.facebook.com/OurFamiliesGrowTogether

Sales for this t-shirt will go towards creating a sustainable program.

Fuelling the next generation!

Art-making and Self Determine-Nation

Yesterday, a colleague and I travelled to Quebec City to co-facilitate a workshop on human rights, community mobilization and youth activism as part of the Quebec and Labrador First Nations Youth Forum.

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Participants visual art response to the question: What human rights are you passionate about and what is one thing you can do for yourself, your family or your community to acknowledge it?

As the media arts coordinator of the Kahnawake Youth Forum and in collaboration with the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, we put together a series of art activities and ice breaker warm ups to move the energy and activate the processing abilities of the group.

From human rights pick up lines to creating a Self Determine-Nation collage, we journeyed through the grey area, also known as Human Rights.

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Circle debrief

We reminded ourselves, that Indigenous rights are human rights. They are not “special rights”.

We reminded ourselves that we are born into our language, our culture and the land. These are inherent rights and are legally binding (UNDRIP–United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People); they are not given or determined by an outside entity.

We also reminded ourselves of the work of our ancestors, like Deskaheh, who teach us how to stand up for our rights as Indigenous People and as Human Beings. He teaches us that we have a voice in the United Nations arena and that we have a voice on what affects our own lives.

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Colleague Jessica Deer and I

Through the work that we do, we always reminded that changes and conversations on Human Rights do not have to start at the UN level, but can and should start in the home, in the family and in the community.

Art creates change.

Skátne Ionkwatehiahróntie’ – “Our Families Grow Together”

Today, I reflect on the Skátne Ionkwatehiahróntie’ – “Our Families Grow Together” program in my community.

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Planting through our Creation Story

It was almost one year ago, I approached a good friend of mine at the Native Youth Sexual Health Network with an idea: “I want to run a parenting program for parent’s under the age of 25. I want to address the stigma we face as young parents and I want to create a space where we learn our traditional teachings with our children. I want to do it through art”

Having a background in Circle of Security Attachment parenting as well as formal training in Art Education gave me the confidence to dream the program, but being a young mother myself gave me the courage to chase it.

As young parents, we tend to be labeled as “failed”, “irresponsible”, or “unsuccessful”; there is stigma that follows us when we leave the house that sometimes affects our own confidence in parenting. Even in safe spaces like parenting groups or support groups, our needs and experiences tend . All of the sudden, becoming a young mom meant I no longer had access to sexual education or support resources for my age.

And I know I was not alone.

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Weekly reflection mural; at the end of 10 weeks, we will have a large mural full of ideas, experiences and teachings.

Together, we actively sought out funding and networking to create something unique for the other young mothers in the community; I wanted to create a space for us to grow together WITH our children–not just as people or parents, but as Kanienkeha’ka. I wanted to empower our young women and remind them of how important they are, not just to their little ones but to our whole community–to themselves.

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Learning and making traditional medicine.

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Making our “distress kits”–medicine bags to fill up with our own healing tools.

Fast forward two phases, each lasting 10 weeks, we now have a group of young women actively learning their language, their traditions and their teachings through our relationships to the land and our culture.

Together, we explore healthy relationships, rites of passage, parenting struggles and life struggles through cultural knowledge.

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Taking our children strawberry picking and sharing their teachings in the land with our children.

Granted, curriculum planning, funding hunting and coordinating elders/knowledge keepers in the community is no easy feat, but I wouldn’t trade facilitating this program for the world.

Just hearing the young women share their stories in how they changed how they parent as well as relate to their children (and themselves!) is enough to keep the fire going.

Each of them have gifts and it is through programs like this one, that they are able to grow each of them.

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Charting our moontimes through beaded necklaces

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Making moontime zines and restoring traditional knowledge

Photo Five

Making splints to weave a basket.

Their little ones have a strong future ahead of them.

Call out for submissions: HONOURING INDIGENOUS WOMEN

I will be curating another national art exhibition, alongside the Kahnawake Youth Forum.

Art Making and Cultural Restoration

Reflecting back to 2014, I worked with some youth from a neighbouring Mohawk community who were going through our traditional rites of passage ceremonies. In addition to processing traditional knowledge, myself and a colleague of mine ran through an arts-based workshop on leadership and youth/community mobilization.

We used interactive activities to deconstruct the definitions of leadership and help each youth (11-21) reapply new concepts to themselves. To finish, we facilitated the creation of 30 foot mural of leadership in Indigenous communities.

Ohero:kon

To have a workshop facilitated in your community, please do not hesitate to contact me.

New Exhibition

After a two year hiatus from professional art making to raise my daughter, I finally have some new work on exhibition. If you are in the Montreal QC area, come for a visit.image

Gallery sneak peak

Gallery sneak peak

I will have a meet-the-artist hour Sunday August 2nd at 1:00  pm.