A persevering First Nations youth reconnects with his culture and gains independence to graduate with honours

As a family support worker, Rodney Noskiye helps families and youth rebuild their connections with each other.

Rodney feels the significance of cultural awareness with those he works with. In particular, with First Nations youth who are on their journey to independent living.

“Oftentimes, youth are not aware of the support and resources available to them in the area, and by working with them, I am able to provide them access to these places,” says Rodney. “The youth I work with are interested in learning the Cree culture, so I connect them to the Elders in the community and attend [local] cultural events with them. Being fluent in the Cree language, I am able to share the language with those who are willing to learn.”

There was one youth he worked with who was having trouble finishing high school. They were alone, disconnected from their culture and had no family to help them live a clean and sober life. “I took the opportunity to meet with this person and was simply there for him and to listen to whatever he had to say.” Rodney’s goals were to help the youth complete high school, find a job, and reconnect with his background. To do so, Rodney worked on creating a relationship with him. They created a resumé together and worked on communication skills. He listened to the youth when they were feeling frustrated and gave them guidance in finding tutoring and addictions counselling. “I used my active listening skills to make them feel heard. I held space for him and reassured him that I would be there to help him if he needed help,” he reflects.

Above all, one of the most important things Rodney says he was able to do was reconnect them to their culture and help them understand the deeper meaning of their past. This individual was able to discover the many centres and providers of their culture within the community, such as the Native Friendship Centre, which helped him to understand who he was. While Rodney says the youth did stumble during his journey, he was able to obtain an apartment and live independently. He secured a job, reconnected with his family and graduated from high school with Honours.

“This experience has taught me valuable lessons in patience and the importance of perseverance,” Rodney says.

By taking a culturally aware approach, he built a relationship that included a holistic culture of learning and reflection. Connecting them to their past helped “ground them and provide them with the opportunity to better themselves for the future.”