By Arcie Mallari, Sauvé Scholar 2010-2011

On November 17, 2010, as part of the partnership between the Sauvé Scholars Program and Kahnawake Survival School (KSS), nine Sauvé Scholars participated in the KSS Substance Abuse and Restorative Justice Week. I was joined by Michelle Berkowitz from Guatemala; Temitope Folaranmi from Nigeria; Anu George and Amruth Ravindranath from India; Rouzbeh Mircharkhchian from Iran; Carlos Rueda from Peru; Jessica Simpson from the North West Territories; and Andrew Sniderman from Montreal.

Together, we spent a full day at the KSS Middle School, providing the students with engaging and inspiring activities that promote cross-cultural sharing, personal and social enrichment, and community leadership. The event was arranged by Kahienes Sky, Social Worker at KSS, with support from Simone Hanchet, our Director of Communications. In addition to the nine Scholars, three Kahnawake community members also graced the occasion, namely: Chris Brown, Carl Horn, and Johnny Montour.

Each speaker visited around six classes of middle school students, each class having between 17 to 20 students. We were given 45 minutes each to share our stories and to do activities. Michelle and Andrew teamed up and facilitated the students in discussing drug abuse, injustice and yoga that can help them to be focused and relaxed; Temitope shared drug abuse in Nigeria in the context of his HIV prevention work as a medical doctor; Anu told her personal experience overcoming adversity and making a difference for others; Amruth engaged the students to look at their educations as more than what happens in the classroom and had them participate in the game that he personally created; Rouzbeh and Carlos paired up to talk about how sports can help a person to unite and live a healthy life; Jessica talked with them about the residential school system and shared her perspective as an aboriginal; and I shared my experience living in a dumpsite and how that impacted on the community’s education.

Despite our cultural differences, the students and Scholars found joy in sharing their experiences with one another. Students and even teachers were engaged in asking questions, curious about the countries and areas that the Scholars come from. The experience not only gave the Scholars the opportunity to share a piece of their lives, but also an opportunity to learn about indigenous culture, history, and resilience in Canada by engaging with the Kahnawake Survival School and the wider Kahnawake community.

The event was just a tip of the iceberg between the collaborative initiatives of Jeanne Sauvé Scholars and Kahnawake Survival School. Different activities are lined up and will be implemented early of 2011!