Driving into Cross Lake from Thompson gives you almost three hours to think about everything, while still focusing on the washboard roads so that you do not crash the vehicle before you get there. What I think about the most on the drive alone, while blasting my tunes and singing away, are the youth living in Cross Lake and how resilient, brave and strong they really are. If you live in Northern Manitoba, this is something that you have already known for some time; that the kids growing up here on various isolated reservations are among the most intelligent and amazing young humans on this planet. Despite having to overcome many barriers in life ( some from the present, some from the past), many are still here, surviving, fighting for a better life and better opportunities within their own community. I literally do get goosebumps of the thought these kids will most certainly change our country and our world.
I have been fortunate to have been welcomed into the community by many of the youth as well as community members over the past couple of months, and it has been eye-opening as well as life changing for me. While I do get some stares at the North Mart for being the whitest dude in town, it’s not stares of hate or disagreement, but mostly of curiosity. Never once have I been treated as that “white person”, but simply as a person ( which is beautiful).
Lets just get one thing straight, I love Cross Lake. It is blooming with the next young leaders of our country, with over 50% of the population being in their early twenties and under. It has some adult leaders who truly care about their community as well as their kids. It has a beautiful backdrop of water surrounding the community, with so much green space as well.
Again, I have been fortunate enough to have been welcomed into the community to support in whatever way I can and am so very grateful for that. I think the biggest misconception I get when I do travel home to Powassan, Ontario is that my job up here since day 1 in 2010 was working with “bad kids”. I love being able to tell people back home that ive never worked a single day in my life with a “bad kid”. I’ve worked with kids who make bad choices, ive worked with kids who have bad influences in their lives, ive worked with kids who have had the weight of the world put on their shoulders since they were very young, ive worked with kids who have been through more in their young lives than most of us will face in our lifetime, But I have never ever worked with a bad kid. They are all equally amazing and talented, just maybe these talents haven’t been brought out yet or these kids don’t really know how amazing they are yet.
I just want to speak directly to the youth of Cross Lake this last little bit. I am so grateful for all of you. You always hear the phrase, “everything happens for a reason”? I don’t think I was much of a believer in this until I got to meet some of you. I believe I was meant to meet some of you, but really for you to help me, to teach me so I can teach others who may continue to have ignorant views of the fist nations people of Canada. I truly believe that this generation of indigenous youth in the country of Canada have the ability and drive to break the cycle of intergenerational abuse caused by my ancestors ignorance. That is how much hope I have in all of you. you are the best!
I cannot make up for what has been done in the past by my ancestors, but I can sure as hell do my part to make sure it never happens again. I will walk beside you or behind you to change the privileges of a group of people, to the privileges of an entire nation of people, together.
Cross Lake Youth. You Are My Heroes. Stay Strong, Stay Beautiful, Stay Original. Be who you are, and love yourself. You are worth it, and you will change this world for the better, I can feel it!