Well this was a first!

The first time I had ever worked with Northern youth that were neither indigenous, nor Canadian.

I was delivering a Digital Storytelling workshop with Yellowknife youth that were all, instead, Permanent Residents with Syrian, Palestinian, UK, Kenyan & Somalian roots. They were new to Canada, and wow…what an inspiring, resilient, brilliant and fun group of youth they were.

Based in Yellowknife, the NWT Literacy Council has been a HUGE supporter of ours the last three years, generously loaning us their 10 iPads for a wide range of Digital Storytelling workshops across the territory. Digital Literacy is, after all, a very important aspect of literacy for every NWT citizen.

We were of course happy to help them with this special workshop offer, and so after our flights were booked, the 2-day workshop was confirmed for the 2 last days of March.

Muhammad experiments with mirrors in our photography activity.

Muhammad experiments with mirrors in our photography activity.

The workshop participants have all relocated to Yellowknife from their home country between 1-3 years ago: two Syrian youth escaped war through a family sponsorship program in Yellowknife, and two youth from the UK moved here because one of their parents got a new job in Yellowknife. 

 Their stories of home, of travel, of quickly learning a new language, of making new friends, of adapting to sub-arctic weather, of learning how to fish in NWT lakes for the first time (and loving it!), and of making community in Yellowknife were rich with detail, colour, warmth and strength. 

Fidaa & Khaled with their family in Yellowknife

Fidaa & Khaled with their family in Yellowknife

They dove right into photography, narration writing and recording, beat-making with Garageband, & video editing with iMovie – all on the iPad. As one would expect, they were quick to pick up their new skills, and were keen to continue long after time was up.

 To be honest with you, I was expecting more sadness from the youth, more longing for their home country and more difficulty adapting to Northern ways. 

 I was proven wrong, and I will always remember this experience as a lesson in resilience, optimism and new beginnings.  Thanks for the being so awesome Fidaa, Kahled, Muhammad & Mohammed! I can’t wait to hear how life continues to evolve for you in Yellowknife.

Watch 12-year old Khaled’s Digital Story below: