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.

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