Innovation Station Conference Special Guests

Elder Whabagoon, Land-Based Indigenous Youth Program, University of Toronto

Elder Whabagoon is an Ojibway Elder of the Lac Seul First Nation, a Keeper of Sacred Pipes, active community member, speaker, land defender, and water protector in addition to her role with the University of Toronto. Nikibii Dawadinna Giigwag (Flooded Valley Healing) is a participatory employment training program that includes the voices of indigenous youth and Elders/Knowledge Keepers in the planning and designing of green infrastructure. The 2018 inaugural program provided four Toronto high school youth and two University of Toronto graduate students with an opportunity to contribute to the revitalization of Bolton Camp, a 254-acre site 40 km north of the city. More than 30 experts mentored the students through lectures, workshops, design reviews, guided site visits and training in the field. The program challenged the youth to brainstorm design concepts to transform an existing cabin structure at Bolton Camp into a sustainable cabin that will provide indigenous youth, Elders and others with access to future programming and ceremonial space. Phase 2 of the program will begin in spring 2019 and continue to offer participants the opportunity both to explore traditional teachings of the Land, and to learn about potential post-secondary education opportunities and career paths in less familiar disciplines or professional fields.