A local Dene man has taken his experiences as a young Indigenous Canadian from Meadow Lake to a world forum recently.
Mitchell Anderson just arrived back to Saskatchewan from Geneva, Switzerland, but this was no ordinary trip. He participated in a UN Forum on minority youth around the world, and the issues they face.
The Meadow Lake-born Dene man is a United Church minister-in-training, and is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity at St. Andrews College in Saskatoon. Anderson was chosen to attend the three-day event last week on behalf of the United Church of Canada and the World Council of Churches.
Anderson it was a surreal, eye-opening experience from start to finish.
“We discussed a number of issues of young persons belonging to minority groups, and about how to make societies who are more inclusive of them,” he said.
From Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, Anderson attended a variety of sessions, including consultation meetings with the committee of the elimination of racial discrimination, which discussed ethnic cleansing and racial profiling.
“It was really interesting to hear all around the world, some of the different things that people are experiencing in racial discrimination,” he said. “The conversation on racial profiling mattered a lot because lots Canadians of colour, Indigenous and otherwise, do experience racial profiling in their day to day lives. That’s the kind of racism that can be hard to talk about, but that people all around the world are experiencing in ways that aren’t fair and aren’t right and need to be ended.”
Anderson said his experiences as a young Indigenous person, as well his family and Christian values gave him a unique lens to approach the forum. He said it was fascinating to hear the differences and similarities between various cultures and groups across the globe.
“I’ve always had a belief that society can and should be inclusive of all kinds of people, whoever we are wherever we’re from, that we deserve to be included, we deserve to be listened to,” he said. “Those are values that my parents taught me.”
He said the forum itself included panels on education, helping minority youth participate in public life, media and culture in the digital age, and issues of peace and conflict. Anderson spoke during the digital age session about intergeneration trauma and reconnecting to language and culture, and how storytelling is a way of addressing these topics.
“The idea that something terrible happened to our parents or grandparents can have an impact on our lives, and that’s very real, and something we’re talking about a lot in Canada,” he said. “As well, I’ve been using YouTube among other things to try to learn more Dene, and that’s important to me with reconnecting to my culture. I also offered some recommendations supporting that kind of work.”
Anderson added he was happy to be a part of it and is thankful to have met and interacted with minority youth from around the globe.
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