"As Indigenous youth, we grow up fighting for our rights, facing challenges that threaten our future, and learning strategies for solving huge problems. Usually, youth can feel alone in the majority community, because we have worries that the majority do not relate to.
In our Indigenous societies, we are working with our own challenges that we are facing, but the interesting part is that most of the indigenous youth are experiencing almost exactly the same things! We live on completely different places, countries, and continents, but we are so much alike. When I heard about the opportunity to apply for a workshop about Indigenous youth leadership, I got excited. This was a big opportunity to meet Indigenous youth, and exchange experiences and knowledge in a framework of empowerment, resilience, and youth leadership competence.
With Arendalsuka (the largest political gathering in Norway) as the context, we got the opportunity to use the strategies that we had learned to talk and discuss with experienced politicians. We had an exciting program with lessons about leadership, climate change, negotiation methodology, crisis management, etc. For me, this is useful to bring back to my south Sámi community, and it will be necessary in our fights for Indigenous land and other challenges.
At the end of the workshop, we were supposed to use the skills we had learned in a simulation based on a case similar to reality. I am impressed how efficient a simulation is to develop leadership skills. I now feel a lot more prepared to meet situations where I am in the position of defending the Sámi and Indigenous peoples’ side. For me, it is important to know that we have the knowledge we need in the Sámi community; knowledge that does not depend on the majority. Good leadership is one of the important types of knowledge that we need to have in the Sámi community.
I look forward to our next workshop which hopefully will happen in January 2023 in the US. There we will continue to strengthen our knowledge and the new network we have established in Arendal. Thank you to the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry, Harvard Kennedy School, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and all the collaborators who made this happen!"
A total of 20 youth from Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Sweden, and Norway participated in the workshop on August 15-19, 2022. It brought together young Indigenous leaders from across the Arctic to share knowledge and experiences regarding the impacts of climate change, to increase understanding of Indigenous peoples' food systems, to build competence and confidence for leadership, provide youth with important skills to support the needs and interests of their communities, and build understanding of how to advance the resilience of communities.