Lunch N' Learn with Kendra Jessie

Lunch N' Learn with Kendra Jessie
Posted on 04/25/2022
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High Prairie School Division's Youth Council for Reconciliation (YCR) held a Lunch N' Learn on April 12 to kickstart the group. Ninety Grade 9-12 students across the division attended the session to learn more about reconciliation and what they can do to create positive change within their schools and communities.

Tuesday's session featured guest speaker Kendra Jessie, a Cree and Ukrainian woman from Sucker Creek First Nation in traditional Treaty 8 territory. Kendra was once a student of HPSD and has gone on to become a certified personal fitness trainer, certified hockey coach through the National Coaching Association of Canada, and a Nike N7 ambassador. In addition, she is a fancy shawl dancer and has a Bachelor of Sport Management Honours Degree from Brock University.

As well as sharing her own experiences and personal journey, Kendra emphasized to students that even at a young age, they still have an essential role in this world. "As a young person, you hold power and value. You are our future leaders, decision-makers, and policymakers. Each of you has unique gifts, abilities, and knowledge to share. Remember that you have a special place in history. You have to be the change that you want to see."

Kendra explained what reconciliation looks like: "Reconciliation must be the responsibility of all who occupy the colonial state of Canada. It is not just a one-way relationship. The truth needs to be revealed in order to heal and move forward in a good way. We cannot move forward if the truth is not taught, not heard, not learned." Kendra voiced that it was great to see students learning about reconciliation at this young age as many (including herself) only learn about reconciliation as adults or upon attending post-secondary.

There is an additional component to reconciliation, as some Elders have shared with Kendra, "Reconciliation is deeper than individual to individual. It is also reconciling with plants, animals, and water. These relationships have been destroyed, and this is a big, interconnected relationship that needs to be reconciled".

When asked what people can do to help and support this reconciliation process, Kendra answered, "The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has created 94 calls to action. Read and acknowledge the 94 calls to action." For herself, Kendra has focused on calls to action that center around sport, recreation, and physical activity. These are areas that she is passionate about and in which she feels she can make impactful change. There is a need to reclaim space in these areas for Indigenous people and reclaim generations of wellness knowledge that have been lost due to the disruption and loss of culture through the residential school process.

She emphasized the importance of honoring the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. "This is a day to honour Survivors and intergenerational Survivors. There are many people still living today who are affected. This is not in the past".

Diane Bellerose, HPSD's Indigenous Education Lead, stated, "It will be great to see the YCR leading youth-based initiatives. The students know what they want to see and hear in the schools. All we need to do is give them tools and a space and then step out of the way."

(Photo courtesy of Sean Arceta @insta.fotograph)

Kendra Jessie wearing ribbon skirt

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