Reflections from our Youth Assistant - Roberta Wally

The following blog post is from our lovely Youth Assistant Roberta, who joined AICBR in August and has been working closely with Norma and the team on various climate change related projects. 

Here are some of her personal reflections!

Pictured Above: Roberta Wally outside AICBR's office on Hanson Street. 

Pictured Above: Roberta Wally outside AICBR's office on Hanson Street. 

"This summer, I had the wonderful chance to work with AICBR and its crew. When I first started working with AICBR I had never heard of them, but now I see just how much is going on in that little building on Hanson Street. The AICBR is currently working on 3 major projects related to climate change and research, and boy these projects sound awesome. The three projects I've been involved in are 1) the Yukon Indigenous Community Climate Change Champions program, 2) the Indigenous Leadership/Guardians Initiative, and 3) the Canadian Mountain Network.

With the AICBR, I had the amazing opportunity to fly to Old Crow for the first time to help Norma Kassi present on these three projects. There I had the chance to not only talk about these unique programs that are happening and hear how it will benefit the community from their perspective, but I also got to see some beautiful Gwitchin scenery. Coming from a place that has sporadic permafrost, the continuous permafrost there was definitely something new and different to see.

Along with that Old Crow trip, I also recently had the opportunity to join in on the CIHR (Canadian Institutes of Health Research) conference that was held in Whitehorse this year at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre. The conference consisted of many communities and initiatives that are all working towards creating healthier and better adapted communities. The conference itself was a great learning opportunity to see what was going on all over Canada, and to hear about issues others were/are facing.

One of the CIHR conference topics that really stuck out for me was the gender topic. Surprisingly, gender has been a hot topic for awhile now, and people are having a hard time trying to address and fix the stereotypes and/or “boxes” that are influenced by gender. In research, people figuratively create boxes to fit people into a category or group for easier recognition. It’s hard to get people to work together when they are divided by so many boxes, so one thing I heard people say was ‘don’t create more boxes’, 'we are not just one thing'. This approach seems simple, but surprisingly this issue is much more complicated than ever before. For instance, the LGBT group (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender/transvestism) has 4 very different categories. The question I hear people asking is: 'Do we complicate things and deal with them separately? Or do we approach them all the same?' For me, at the end of the day we are all human, but also no human is the same and each one has different needs. Coming from a First Nation background this topic is definitely something I will keep an eye on and ear open to, and look forward to seeing what will become of it, and how it will move forward.

Throughout this job, I have had the opportunity of working hand in hand with Norma Kassi and I’m learning a lot. I’m learning not only about the projects and the planning involved, but also what it takes to build relationships and work positively within them. The AICBR is big on working WITH the community, and FOR the community, instead of around the community. This process is something that I believe is key in relationship building and even wth Reconciliation all together. AND it’s just great to see this orchestra of experts working together for a common goal that not only benefits the communities involved, but includes them positively as well. So far this job has been a great learning experience that I am enjoying it quite well and the network and relationship building is a plus.

Till next time.

Roberta Wally"