I have decided that to start assisting the Victoria Kwagiulth Urban Society (VKUS) during my academic studies will be a challenging, but rewarding experience. My original intention was to work on a semi-annual newsletter to improve communications between members. Upon closer examination, this project would not only surpass the internships hour maximum, but the continual demands of this project would amount to more than a full time student should realistically devote to extra-curricular community volunteering. I will defer this important project to the future when I can properly devote my time to it. In place of this project I have proposed two shorter term projects that will fall nicely between breaks in my academic schedule: the graduation honouring dinner in June and an August decolonizing project – the latter of which I will explain in further detail.
The annual trip home will tour several Kwakwaka’wakw territories each year for 8-12 days. This will be at the completion of the week long Kwak’wala seminar language class held in Victoria in August. The focus of this trip will be to reinvigorate both language usage and cultural meanings behind these studies and separate this knowledge from Western philosophies to gain respect for the value of Kwakwaka’wakw traditional knowledge. Also, the trip would serve to connect people with their traditional territories and the land that nourishes our cultural knowledge. Each destination will be organized well in advance and transportation will be arranged. Participants would bring camping gear and appropriate dress, but it is my hope that the costs of the trip will be covered by donations, fundraising and band sponsorships. Applications would include reasons why they should be part of this annual event and geared toward how the applicant can assist their home communities in the future.
The internship would be spent planning and setting up a structure to allow the following year to flow as seamlessly as possible. The first year would be a pilot travelled by myself and/or one other person while setting up contacts and soliciting the idea to bands and contacts. Itineraries for three trips will be planned to allow for cancellations and other unforeseen circumstances. The participants will contribute something to each community they are welcomed into by requesting to help through traditional protocols. Elders will be invited to provide teachings to participants about their traditional territories and storytellers will share creation stories. A handbook of each territories history will be provided by Band website introductions and provided documentation that will be requested. The instruction will be traditionally passed on but will provide for the history of each place visited, the protocols in place that should be respected and traditional foods eaten, prepared and if possible harvested. A major component will be to build upon the Kwak’wala learned in the week long language course. There will be a recreational activity daily that will utilize local events, fields, community recreation centres or trails to hike, etc. Participants will be encouraged to keep a journal of daily events as well as provide a reflection paper at the end of the tour that will serve to measure the success of the program.
Later tours will include themes that are currently plaguing the communities. A march will be organized through communities in the name of a chronic disease or other health and social problems. Hopefully this will turn into a youth movement that will have great force within the communities and serve to act as a powerful lesson about what our young people can accomplish.
I understand there may be similar initiatives out there and I do not want to duplicate anyone's hard work. If you are interesting in helping to move this project forward or know of anybody that might be interesting in contributing, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org