The Red Lake Band of Chippewa is inspiring high school students to get prepared for the future by saying no to drugs and alcohol. Since 2009, the Red Lake Youth conference has aimed to empower youth by addressing issues facing the community. Chairman Floyd “Buck” Jourdain said, “This is our time to celebrate the youth of Red Lake Nation. Their successes, their hopes, their dreams, those types of things.” Jourdain continued, “Just to encourage them to push on to higher levels of success.”
A major theme of the event was warning the youth about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Chariman Jourdain addressed the crowd and informed them to make good choices. One student, Josiah Seaton, said, “We’re teenagers and we think we’re invincible, but when you talk about how its going to make it harder to be what you want to be, it starts getting in your head.”
In past years, the conference has included Native American speakers from all regions, including an actor from the Twilight series, but this year’s event featured speakers mostly from the Red Lake community. Red Lake Youth Council Advisor Salena Beasley said, “We wanted to use more local people. We have some local people coming in to do some Ojibwe and language things for our kids too, because I think that it’s important to get back to our culture.”
The organizers of this year’s conference say the event is about creating future leaders of all types. Chairman Jourdain said, “We’re hoping to guide and direct these young people into positions of leadership eventually, whether its tribal councils, or heads of departments or programs, treaty experts, or just good mothers and fathers.
The conference will continue until Friday, May 2nd.