This MayÂ BYTE was invited to Old Crow for Caribou Days [Vadzaih Choo Drin]. This annual celebration is a community wide festival that pays tribute to the animals, the land, and the traditional knowledge that keeps the Gwichâ€™in strong.
Caribou Days offered BYTE an opportunity to screen This Is Our Arctic, a film the Old Crow high school students made with us back in 2015. In conjunction with the film we also planned to facilitate a community discussion around climate change effects in Old Crow, and the importance of continually engaging youth on the topic.
Living learning- a classroom session is interrupted to watch caribou swim across the Porcupine River
Caribou Days coordinator Teresa Frost showing youth traditional materials made from caribou
Things in Old Crow kicked off BYTE style with pizza and games night at the Youth Center. The evening provided a space for youth to unleash their enthusiasm for the start of Caribou Days. This meant working as a group to develop a community agreement for the weekend. Community Agreements are a cornerstone in our programming, a chance for participants to reflect on what they plan to both give and get from a given experience. Themes for the weekend focused on mutual respect, good listening, and learning from parents and Elders throughout the weekend. Once the pizza had been consumed and the community agreement hammered out it was time to head outside for an endless game of Cops & Robbers under the midnight sun. Pavlina is reportedly still sore.
Saturday in the community hall BYTE manned the Yukon Youth Want booth. Yukon Youth Want is a chance to engage young people on the issues that matter them. It was great to have the new VGFN Chief, Bruce Charlie, participate as well.
Sunday the BYTE main event kicked off with the official premiere of This Is Our Arctic. Many community members turned out to see the film the Chief Zzeh GittlitÂ students made and be part of the community discussion. Â
Our follow up discussion to the film was broken down into three major questions;
How are we seeing Climate Change in Old Crow?
How does Climate Change affect our future?
Why is it important to teach the youth to take care of the Land?
The discussions engaged Elders and youth, giving both an opportunity to share their knowledge. A large part of the discussion focused on calls for community led action to better engage youth on the land moving forward.
Caribou Days was a very special event for BYTE to be invited to. We would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to all the people in Old Crow who taught us to bead, play Bingo, skin muskrat, jig, for taking us up river, and to everyone for sharing their stories & participating in BYTE events. Mahsiâ€™Choo.