Youth councils have been active in the Cree communities for only a few short years, but youth leaders want to take a second look at their mission and get an idea of how the councils are perceived by Cree youth and political leadership.
Rhonda Oblin, a Cree student taking public relations at McGill, will conduct a survey of youth in April and has already met with several leaders to get their views—chiefs George Wapachee and Billy Diamond, Paul Dixon and Robert Weistche. She also conducted an in-depth interview with Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come.
Oblin said the Cree Nation Youth Council asked her to do the study because “they felt the youth weren’t sure what the council was set up to do. It’s supposed to represent them, so there should be an awareness there.”
Oblin said she has gotten some interesting feedback from the leaders.
The youth are not learning traditional skills enough and the youth councils should set up programs to promote those skills, she was told. Another comment was that youth councils should try to involve young trappers more.
Other comments: Youth should participate more in local and regional meetings. They expect things to be given to them. Some animosity and lack of communication were perceived between the youth and leadership. Cree people as a whole need a healing process to deal with residential school experiences, and the youth councils should be involved. It was also felt that the youth councils may be catering to a specific segment of the youth, not all of them.