Graham Richard —
Dance, song, games, basketball, and a parade of superheroes – 131 people transformed into movie directors and costume designers for the 2017 Haida Gwaii Youth Assembly in Gaaw Massett. Eight teams took on four challenges, competing for glory and a grand prize of $5,000.
Youth completed the first challenge creatively, presenting the talents of their team with dance, sport, song, and performance. Next, they stepped things up with the invention of their own team superhero. One-by-one the costumed champions took the stage to show the assembly their powers. On Saturday morning the teams convened for the Youth House of Assembly. This year, instead of writing new resolutions, each team chose one from previous years, fulfilled it and presented their results. Finally, each team created a movie for Orange Shirt Day. Each movie contained messages about the meaning of the commemorative day, along with messages to elders and children.
For three days elected representatives scrutinized every action, the teams took awarding points for their attitude, engagement, and results. As the final day drew to a close the points added up to a win for ‘Laana Kilguhlga Team Heritage and Natural Resources.
On day one youth elected this year’s representatives. 2017’s Youth Council includes President Jordan Stewart; Vice-president Cora Camire; Northern Representatives Ethan Edgars, Camelia Brennan, Aaliyah Arens, Marissa Abrahams; Southern Representatives Xiila-T’aayii Guujaaw, Guustlaas Trey Rorick, Tanika Brown and Schon Sjolund; and Off-Island representatives Salal Ewasiuk, Kwiiaas Parnell, Barbara Ann Parnell and Hailey Palfy.
On the last day seven facilitators on Team Skilay each recognized one participant who showed the character of Skilay Ernie Collison. These included Xuuya K’aajuu Giis Teresa Russ, Guustlaas, Haana Edenshaw, Cora Camire, Zoey Collinson, Aaliyah Arens, and Kaylene Bell.
The 2017 teams included: Chiina Ga Kyahts’ii Team Fisheries; Gud Ga Kilguhlga Team Communications; ‘Laana Kilguhlga Team Heritage and Natural Resources; Naang Gaay.ya Team Athletics; Tang Gwan Sii Waay Team Ocean; Team HaiCo ; Team OMVC; and Team Finance. Gii AhlGalang Kii.naay Team Media and Team Admin members participated as non-competitors, working instead towards taking photos, making movies, and ensuring everything ran smoothly. Team facilitators showed a strong commitment to assisting their youth in realizing their ideas. Northern cousins Xiláay Heather Gatti and Aanshaawatk’i Sarah Dybdahl travelled all the way from Alaska to honour their invitation to participate.