A group of eight youth and four leaders from St. Aidan, Toronto travelled to the Diocese of Yukon this summer to visit the village of Old Crow, a small, isolated community in the northwest corner of Canada. We went to learn about one of Canada’s First Nations, to make connections with the people there as part of our parish’s ongoing work at truth and reconciliation, and to be of service to the community if possible.
Old Crow is a self-governing First Nation, the Vuntut Gwich’in. It was a joy for us to discover the strengths and wisdom of the people there, as we met with various leaders in the community and were guided by their priest, the Rev. Bert Chestnut.
We saw how the people of the Vuntut Gwich’in have created sustainable solutions to help them live healthy lives while having as little impact as possible on the planet and their fragile ecosystem. We learned about their work to help protect that part of the planet and the Porcupine Caribou herd upon which they depend. As the week progressed, we gradually met more of the community members and became friends rather than just visitors.
Our group members were changed as we learned to see the earth – its people, plants, animals and water – differently. We were made more aware of the need to change our thinking and habits to preserve our world. Equally important, we were able to experience another way of thinking about how people should behave towards each other and work together despite coming from very different backgrounds.
Living in this vibrant First Nations community for a week gave us some real hope for the future. It was a model that needs to be shared with more Canadians as we work to repair the damage that has been done in our country.
Amy Ferguson was one of the leaders on the trip.