YSI Algoma – Let’s Tend the Fire Gathering
Moving Forward, Stronger and Brighter
By: Jon Cada
The YSI Algoma Nest hosted a gathering at Searchmont Resort in August, featuring a mixture of young community change-makers, adult allies and decision makers to develop meaningful conversations and relationships around several key challenges and barriers that young people face in Northern Ontario communities.
The gathering used the theme ‘Let’s Tend the Fire’ to focus on how the YSI Algoma community can continue learning about the values of shared leadership, facilitation and promoting the value of conversations so that young people feel empowered to host community conversations and develop action items from them. This theme followed last year’s YSI Algoma gathering, ‘Let’s build a Fire’ which brought young people from across the Algoma District together for the first time to discover where their hearts are for their community and how they can develop the skills they need and feel empowered to share them with others.
Since last year’s gathering, young people have benefited from the development of the YSI Algoma Nest by having a chance to share their reflections, share updates in their work and exchange ideas with each other while helping develop a community of support in the process.
Networking, another key development that has taken place in the Algoma Nest, gives young people a new outlet and confidence to ask questions and get feedback from different members and supporters so that they can push their ideas forward.
Some takeaways to share from this year’s gathering include a small group of young people wanting to utilize new tools, knowledge and communication strategies to build a community of people that can better support an emerging music scene in Sault Ste. Marie and surrounding areas. Individuals from Manitoulin Island and Thunder Bay, ON also attended and feel supported by the YSI Algoma Nest to begin bringing together key people in their communities so that conversations can be had around building a community of support and shared leadership in their respective regions.
40 people attended the weekend event including individuals from Toronto who also count themselves as members of the provincial YSI community. Individuals from Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Goulais River, Batchewana First Nation, Echo Bay, Desbarats, Mississaugi First Nation, Serpent River First Nation and Manitoulin Island also represented their communities. Representatives from the Sault Ste. Marie Arts Council, Sault Ste. Marie Indigenous Friendship Centre and local federal party candidates also attended to learn about this exciting work.
Funding and support for YSI Algoma’s ‘Let’s Tend the Fire’ gathering comes from the Laidlaw Foundation, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Social Entrepreneurship Evolution, Children’s Mental Health Ontario, Thinking Rock Community Arts and the YSI community outside of Algoma.
More about the YSI Algoma Nest:
The YSI Algoma Nest first started as a conversation in 2013, that included young people within Sault Ste. Marie and neighbouring areas to talk about how they can learn from one another and develop positive working relationships and collectively learn about the process of being in community with one another from across different backgrounds, fields of work and areas of interest. The provincial YSI initiative conversations originated out of Toronto in 2009 and includes individuals from across Ontario in on-going conversations to continue learning about what’s needed for young people to feel supported and empowered to create healthy changes in their community.