Ispayin - What's Happening Métis Youth?

Ottawa, ON (September 2010) - Are you a proud Métis youth? Have you ever had your identity questioned by people who lack an understanding about Métis culture? Do you wish that more people had a better understanding of what it means to be Métis?  Would you like the opportunity to speak with other Métis youth about how they express their Métis identity?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions then you may be interested in the ISPAYIN: Métis Youth Express Yourself! project recently launched by the Métis Centre of  the National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO). Through workshops that facilitate dialogue among youth about what it means to be Métis, the ISPAYIN project is cultivating a more articulated sense of identity among Métis youth and helping non-Métis to better understand Métis culture.

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ISPAYIN (pronounced ISH-PY-IN) is a Manitoba Michif term that means ‘happening’. It was used as the title with the intent of articulating the focus of the project: “What’s happening” with Métis youth today.

What is the ISPAYIN Métis Youth Express Yourself Project?

ISPAYIN - Métis Youth Express Yourself! is an exciting new project, led by the Métis Centre of the National Aboriginal Health Organization, to build awareness about Métis youth identity, health and well-being in a contemporary context. The ISPAYIN project sought out artistic submissions and sponsored regional gatherings of Métis youth across Canada in the summer of 2009. Youth were recorded singing, speaking, fiddling, jigging, rapping, and dancing at these events. They were also encouraged to submit videos or hard copies of artwork, music, stand-up comedy, poetry or any other form of artistic expression. A DVD was built around these expressions of Métis youth identity in a contemporary context, where images were paired with intergenerational narratives, representing a collective Métis past, present, and future. An accompanying Discussion Guide was also developed.

The result was the creation of an interactive workshop resource intended for use in Métis communities, grade schools and secondary schools and within mainstream and Aboriginal organizations.

How youth can get involved!

Watch the DVD and share it with your friends!  Go to: http://www.metisyouthexpressions.ca/ for links to the DVD segments on YouTube. Feel inspired? Deliver a workshop in your community! Not sure how? Go to the website and download the ready-made discussion guide that accompanies the DVD. Want to order a package with the DVD & Discussion Guide in hard copy? You can order them (free) and get bookmarks, posters and prizes to promote your workshop and the project from the Métis Centre at the National Aboriginal Health Organization – just contact Jennifer Rankin Tel:  613-237-9462 x500/Toll Free: 1-877-602-4445 x500/ Email: jrankin@naho.ca for your ISPAYIN Facilitator Start Up Kit!

Not a youth but want to be involved?

Encourage a Métis youth to present (or co-present) this DVD & Discussion Guide in your community. Provide assistance and support. Order a package and post posters in your workplace or community to promote the project. Tell another organization about this DVD & Discussion Guide (e.g. mainstream or Aboriginal organizations, schools, community centres, health centres, etc.) Deliver your own workshop with a Métis youth in your workplace to increase cultural competency and make services more accessible and culturally relevant to Métis people.

What makes this project so unique?

Its ability to engage Métis youth in discussions about their identity in a contemporary context. Approximately 34 percent of the Métis population is under the age of 25. This DVD & Discussion Guide has the ability to bring Métis youth in our communities together to explore what it means to be Métis and increase youth’s sense of belonging, pride and connection to their community.

Who will benefit from the workshops?

The DVD & Discussion Guide can also be used with adults and communities at large as a cultural competency tool. It can be used with organizations that want to make their workplace or community services more accessible or culturally relevant to Metis people. Through the expressions of Métis youth on the DVD and tailored discussion-based activities on breaking down stereotypes, social exclusion, and health impacts, workshop participants build awareness of Métis culture and identity.

I’m a youth - why should I get involved?

To be a leader in your community, promote pride in Métis identity and engage more Métis youth in your community!

For more information, contact your Ontario Métis Youth ISPAYIN Project Representatives: Benny Michaud and Ginny Gonneau at ispayin@gmail.com

Benny and Ginny participated in the development of the ISPAYIN DVD & Discussion Guide and were part of the first group to receive training to facilitate the workshops. They recently delivered a workshop at the MNO AGA in Thunder Bay to train the MNO’s regional Youth Coordinators and Assistants on how to facilitate ISPAYIN workshops in their communities. To get to know your Ontario Métis Youth Ispayin Project Representatives, please click here.

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Benny Michaud (left) and Ginny Gonneau (right) facilitating an ISPAYIN workshop at MNO's 17th Annual General Assembly (AGA) in Thunder Bay this past August.

ISPAYIN Facilitator Draw!

Included in the facilitator packages are feedback forms to fill out after each workshop. The Métis Centre at NAHO requires feedback to continue developing meaningful products like ISPAYIN. Each time you return a facilitator feedback form you will be entered into a draw for a great prize! The more workshops you conduct, the better your chance of winning.

As part of the ISPAYIN project, the Métis Centre also developed a youth website at http://www.metisyouthexpressions.ca/ offering information about health, well-being and culture. Also, visit the ISPAYIN Blog at http://www.ispayin.blogspot.com/ and join our Facebook group: ISPAYIN Métis Youth Express Yourself.

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