When I started working with M, I was only 18 years old and I had no idea how much the job would teach me and shape me. M and I are three years older now and in that short time, he has taught me just as much as I’ve taught him. With M, I’ve learned a lot about autism. I’ve discovered that an eight-year-old boy can survive–and thrive–on almost exclusively chicken nuggets. And I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve basically perfected the art of Lego house construction.
But one of the most significant things I’ve learned from M is the importance of understanding and valuing Canadian indigenous culture.
M and his mom are from Waywayseecappo First Nation, which is located about 150 kilometres northwest of Brandon, Manitoba. M and his family opened my eyes to what it means to be indigenous in our province by sharing their stories with me first-hand.
M shared little things with me like his bannock at lunchtime (no butter and no jam, Becca). He also politely corrected me when I compared my greasy cheese croissant to his traditional indigenous bread.
“No, Becca. This bannock. That so orange, so yucky,” he said, scrunching his nose as we pulled our meals out of the plastic grocery bags they were packed in.
M’s mom shared with me the story of her difficult move to Winnipeg from Waywayseecappo First Nation with her then undiagnosed autistic son. This story solidified my view of her as one of the most inspiring women I know.
This month at school, I had the opportunity to write an article for my school newspaper, the Projector, about a new indigenous magazine published in Winnipeg called Red Rising Magazine. The magazine is a collection of indigenous-themed poems, short stories, essays and beautiful artwork submitted by young Winnipeg artists. The idea is to give indigenous youth a voice that is unfiltered and true. Red Rising Magazine publishes these firsthand indigenous stories because they are so important to share, especially now that indigenous rights and equality have become so rightfully prominent in Canadian media. But unlike mainstream media, Red Rising Magazine is a medium for indigenous youth to tell their own stories the way they want to.
I was excited to be able to write this story because I believe the personal stories that Red Rising Magazine publishes have the power to inform and educate our country’s youth, just as M’s family’s stories did for me. Red Rising Magazine could help young people understand what it means to be indigenous in Canada and what might need to be done to eradicate racism in our country.
I’m so glad that Winnipeg has courageous indigenous youth leaders that are creating change so that one day, kids like my smart, funny buddy, M, won’t have to hear about inequality or racism against his people anywhere but in history textbooks.
I’ve included a link to Red Rising Magazine’s website here:
And my story can be found on the Projector’s website:
Thank you to the Projector’s Arts and Culture editor, Brittany Hobson, for the story opportunity!