This text is part of the special Social Economy section
Previously a teacher, Dominique Bégin heads the Pekuakamiulnuatsh Youth Council, who has just won a scholarship from the Transition awarded by the Youth Wing of the Social Economy Project.
“I have been in place since July and things are already starting to move,” enthuses Dominique Bégin, the new and very first general director of the Pekuakamiulnuatsh Youth Council, a sort of “mini-town hall managed by and for young people.” youth “. “I have no training in administration or finance, because I have been teaching for around fifteen years. But when I saw the job posting, I jumped in! » adds the one for whom it is essential to guide young Innu as best as she can. “I went with the flow, and I am here now. It warms my heart. »
For her new role as general director, she is surrounded by seven motivated and committed administrators. Their mission together is to restructure the Pekuakamiulnuatsh Youth Council — which are the indigenous people who live around Lake Saint-Jean, Pekuakami in Innu — but also and above all to encourage the engagement of 16-40 year olds from Mashteuiatsh. within their community.
In just three months, the work of the Pekuakamiulnuatsh Youth Council is already bearing fruit. On October 20, he was awarded a Transition scholarship, worth $3,500, awarded by the Youth Wing of the Social Economy Project. “This will allow us to buy books, invite Indigenous actors, talk about multiple issues, subscribe to Indigenous organizations like APTN [Réseau de télévision des peuples autochtones], to provide training, etc., with the aim of making our resources available to young people who want to reconnect with their identity and their community,” says Dominique Bégin straight away. And continues: “For the moment, one of the consequences of the Indian Act is that it is impossible for those who do not have a band number to build themselves in the community. »
The initiatives of the Pekuakamiulnuatsh Youth Council would, in fact, be an opportunity for young people to begin their reunion with their Innu status. “It happens that those who return have never been in contact with us and do not know us at all,” emphasizes Dominique Bégin. We therefore want to inform them, show them what our values are, our way of life, our beliefs, our identity, our spirituality or our cultural activities. » By acquiring video or literary resources, she expresses the hope that these young people will be able to appropriate their own roots. “What we want with the Council is to open dialogue on social, community or economic subjects, on history, our trajectory, who we are, to launch ideas on how to do things differently for the environmental protection, for example,” explains its general director.
Head full of ideas
Supported by her board of directors, Dominique Bégin also wishes to establish an “action strategy for indigenous Innu youth”. “Where do we want to go?” » she raises. “We, with the Council, what we want is to democratically ensure the care of young people: with regard to the promotion of health, well-being, discrimination, education…” En d In other words, they want to do everything possible for the good of future generations. “We are thinking about developing certain programs so that our young people can develop, both locally and provincially, in collaboration with all circles,” she specifies.
To do this, the Pekuakamiulnuatsh Youth Council acts as an advisory committee to the Pekuakamiulnuatsh Takuhikan on everything that concerns youth, directly or indirectly. “We want to be their spokesperson, so it’s important that we can make proposals,” confides Dominique Bégin, for whom everyone’s cooperation is undoubtedly the key to success. “We would also like to develop partnerships with businesses in the community,” she says.
In order for all these ambitions to come to life, the Pekuakamiulnuatsh Youth Council is currently working on a third “big file”, and not the least. “Our intention is also to become a place where young people can and want to come together, a dynamic place in a welcoming and accessible space,” rejoices Dominique Bégin. “We have already sent funding requests to the Youth Secretariat and the Caisse populaire in particular,” she mentions. While waiting for this revitalization, it is not the camping chairs and the folding table that fill their space that will limit their dreams for the future.
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