June 15th 2020
Brooklyn Whitehead Oki, Tanisi, niwihowin morning star woman. Hello, my name is Brooklyn Whitehead, and I am from Fort Chipewyan with the Mikisew Cree First Nation. I am 25 years old, living in Calgary, AB for over 10 years. I am passionate about the work that I do in my community every day. I have been with Diamond Willow for close to two years now, and before that, I was a stay at home mom focusing on my education and not really sure what I wanted to do with my future. The day I had my interview with Miskanawah was the day my life changed. I had known who I was and where I thought I stood with my culture previously, but I didn’t realize how much I was missing until Miskanawah took me on as an employee. I have learned so much from our Elders, our youth and the beautiful people that make Miskanawah what it is. I have grown in ways I could never have imagined.
At Diamond Willow, my job title is a Cultural Support worker. Throughout my time there, I have had the pleasure of getting to know all the youth that come through our doors. I find myself always thinking about new ways I can be there for every young person that walks in. I have seen it grow and flourish into this amazing space for our youth. I have had the chance to laugh, cry and grow alongside all of our beautiful and talented youth. I have encouraged them to try new things that ended up loving, and it fills my heart, knowing that I am making a positive impact on their lives. Diamond Willow has also made me grow and challenge myself; before I was very shy and soft-spoken. I can say now that I am passionate and finding my inner voice because of these youths and the work I do every day. Working with youth was something I never saw myself doing. As my background is mostly in addictions and working with the more vulnerable population, I never saw myself being a youth worker. Now that I am almost 2 years into being a youth worker, I couldn’t imagine myself not doing this kind of work. I remember being younger and the positive impacts that professionals had on me and how to this day I still hold their advice close to my heart, and I hope to be someone like that for the youth I work with today. I feel like this work is incredibly important in shaping the ideas that these young people have and what kind of impact they want to see in the world. It’s funny actually because not too long ago, I was having a conversation with one of the youths who was stressed about what kind of impact she thought she was making. She had asked me if I thought generation Z would make a positive impact on the generation after that, and I said yes, I think they will.
I want the youth to never sell themselves short, and that anything is possible. A lot of the youth I see today are passionate about the things they love. They are warriors, and I am so proud of each and every one of them as I sit from the sidelines and watch them reach their goals. I am proud to be apart of an organization like Miskanawah. I am proud to be apart of a space like Diamond Willow, where the youth in our communities can grow in their culture and really feel at home; to be themselves with no judgement and no expectation other than to be the very best they can be. I am excited about the future, and I know many years down the road Diamond Willow will be a place these youth hold dear to their hearts.
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