Our vision at Pathways is that children, youth and families thrive within a culturally responsive community. Our vision is carried out in our Miskanawah Youth Lodge through strong Indigenous cultural teachings around the ideas of respect, love, dignity, honour, and humility.
Miskanawah camps provide an alternative learning and community environment for young people away from the daily pressures of urban living. These camps offer essential opportunities for youth to meet new friends, play games and spend time outdoors while developing skills related to leadership, teamwork, courage and respect for themselves and others.
By connecting with and exploring Indigenous teachings through the natural elements, songs and stories, our camps focus on “quieting the spirit” of our young people so that they have the opportunity for physical, spiritual and emotional growth. Through participation in cultural ceremonies and group activities, youth are supported in discovering their natural strengths and taking healthy risks to explore what is important to them.
“As Aboriginal people, it is a requirement to be out in nature to connect with the elements,” explained our Elder Patrick Daigneault, who led the ceremonies at our recent spring break camp. The youth were in awe of Elder Pat’s teachings and how his sense of humour alleviated any feelings of anxiety.
When asked about the highlights of their time at camp, many spoke about their experience in the sweat lodge. One 13-year-old camper recalled: “I felt a huge release of negative energy. My problems feel so small.” According to another camper, “in the sweat lodge, I really had a moment to look at my life and think about what I need to change. It was truly an amazing experience.”
Miskanawah Camps aim to help youth engage in self-discovery and to support their quest for purpose. Through exposure to a wide range of activities and Indigenous teachings in addition to opportunities to connect with Elders, participants are supported and encouraged to step out of their comfort zones. This allows them to reflect, practice leadership and develop cooperative skills that allow them to leave camp with a renewed sense of cultural and self-awareness.
A sincere thank you to the Collaborative Funder’s Table and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada for generously supporting our youth programs!