Building Solidarity Between Indigenous and Refugee Communities in Surrey

What was intended as a project to bring together Indigenous and refugee youth for intercultural exchange, celebration and community building grew into even more.

Through a series of dialogues – two dialogue circles and a traditional longhouse ceremony with Kwantlen First Nation – youth were able to safely share their individual journeys and find common ground with respect to experiences of displacement, trauma, and colonization.

The traditional longhouse ceremony was held in January 2018. Chief Marilyn Gabriel of Kwantlen First Nation and her family welcomed the youth into their longhouse for a day of ceremony and ritual at the Kwantlen First Nation Cultural Building in Fort Langley.

What unfolded over the day was a collaboration between the two youth groups, as both the Indigenous and refugee youth teams contributed pre-planned activities and workshops, including a Women INpowerment workshop that addressed how colonization has affected Indigenous women, a mapping activity that allowed participants to visualize their journey, and the KAIROS Blanket Exercise that immersed the youth in the history of colonization in Canada.