In the summer of 2015, the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ community of Hitacu on the West Coast of Vancouver Island asked the community members for their perspective about the wants, needs and dreams of their Nation’s men. Men wanted to learn on the land and from the land. They were also looking for brotherhood with whom to connect. Although initially launched for adult men, only boys and teenagers attended during the first two years of the program, so it was their vision that shaped what has become the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ Warrior program.
Over the last six years the program has grown steadily in popularity, and the group continues to meet one night per week in Hitacu and one weekend per month in remote parts of Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ territory. On weeknights Warriors learn a variety of skills and provide support to Elders and community members with yard work around their homes and wherever else they may be needed. Weekend training not only provides the young men with opportunities to apply the traditional knowledge and survival skills that they have learned on weeknights, but also to nurture their ability to lead small teams of younger Warriors.
In 2018 the Warrior program model was adapted to meet the needs of young men in Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations, and in the fall of 2019 a 12-month pilot launch approach began with Kyuquot and Huu-ay-aht First Nations to co-create their version of the model. Please follow these links to hear the impact of this program from the voice of its participants: https://vimeo.com/241435955, https://vimeo.com/285752620 and https://vimeo.com/321922777
Today the program model is hosted in six Nuu-chah-nulth communities, weaving traditional and mainstream leadership and wellness teachings and practices together on the land to build capability, cultural pride and confidence in young men. It has come to teach survival in three ways: wilderness survival skills if you get lost in the woods; how to survive and lead in emergency situations; and strategies to survive life in today’s society. The young men who were 12 and 13 years old when we began are now 18 and 19 and accompanying us to teach this program model to other Nations. Locally, our in-community mentors have found a renewed sense of purpose in grooming some of their Nation’s future leaders.
The program model continues to be guided by the youth voice, and they have created a consistent and safe space for all healthy community members to rebuild their cultural and personal pride by sharing their skills and stories. Please feel free to reach out anytime to learn more or ask any questions about this model.
via Dr. Ricardo Manmohan
All Nations Youth Warriors