From 2021-2023 GWL embarked on a thesis journey alongside GWL Mentor, Cynthia Lee, focusing her thesis Masters Project on A Girls Who LEAP Exploration of Youth Leadership.
This thesis project utilized a decolonizing Two-Eyed Seeing methodological framework of Youth Participatory Action Research and Indigenous Methodology and engaged 17 GWL girls, 4 GWL mentors and Knowledge Keeper Amanda White in a 3 year research journey. The GWL thesis focused on 3 objectives:
1. Explored how young people in GWL understood and experienced leadership
2. Explored how GWL and young people can embrace Indigenous ways of knowing and leadership
3. Walk alongside the young people in GWL to design a meaningful exploration of youth leadership and to co-create a leadership framework for GWL moving forward
This research project relied heavily on the work of 6 amazing GWL young people (Kiera, Katerra, Eva, Titiana, Bianca, Tiana) who formed the Youth Advisory Research Team, self-named the Bannock Babes, and 2 Advisory Members, fellow GWL mentors, Toni Gladstone and Montanna Howe in creating the research design, research questions, as well as facilitating the research sessions at a power weekend at Camp Zajac in March 2022. Additionally, after gathering and analyzing the data from our research sessions, the Bannock Babes helped create the final product of this thesis with their own GWL designed Leadership Framework based off Dr. Martin Brokenleg’s Circle of Courage that we hope to use moving forward (see model).
Congratulations to Cynthia, Toni, Monty and the Bannock Babes for blazing trails and empowering our GWL young people on youth leadership!
What does perseverance mean to you?
Pushing forward. Never withdrew
Whenever ur feeling blue
Family and friends can help too
If you don't know what to do
Always remember ur personal values
Determination, patience and motivation.
They're what you need to build a good foundation
Encouragement, achievements and recognition
Use these to fuel your ambition
Now you have everything you need to head toward your destination
Whether it's to live comfy and wealthy
Or simply just be healthy
Be proud and capture all your success with a selfie.
Performed at Camp Capilano - ACTION POWER WEEKEND 2021
We asked our Leadership Camp what the word change means to them...
Change. One definition of change is make or become different.
I want to be part of a bigger change in being more diverse in what we do especially in the school system. We learn about WW1 and WW2 but we barely learn about what happens to the people of colour in the past. We learn all about the male leaders and how great they are but we never learn about the female. Or we only learn about what happened in Europe or United States but we never learn about what happens in Canada. Indigenous peoples went through a lot in North America. And the older people who aren’t Indigenous don’t know what happened. So I want to change that because myself being an Indigenous person growing up in a society where people think I am going to give up after high school, drop out or become an alcoholic or a drug addict just because of my race is hard. Because people made a “stereotype” towards Indigenous people and it’s hard to show them the good in something when they grew up being told something else.
That’s what I want to change. I want to be able to do anything, and be anything I want to be and not have a label on me cause of my race. No one should have to walk around with a label on them. Thank you for listening.
We asked our Leadership Camp what the word change means to them...
I am Ashki and education is very important to me. I grew up moving around different countries a lot because my parents were always so worried about our safety and being able to find refuge in a country where we can settle down. So I had to miss almost two years of school.
During that period I missed the feeling of being at school and the feeling of holding a pen and solving a math problem. At the end of grade 6, I was privileged enough to move to America because my family did not want to give up on us and our education since they were not able to receive the same thing themselves. When I got back to school in grade 7 I had to teach myself English because I did not know a single word of English. It was tough but I never gave up because I always knew that there is a kid out there who wants to be exactly where I am right now.
Education has changed my life, it has taught me to become a better person. It changed the way I think of the world right now. And that is why I believe education could be the reason to change all of our lives for the better.
An extraordinary student who came to Canada as a refugee has received a full scholarship to SFU and could one day be playing basketball for Canada.
Published Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Alissa Thibault, Multi-skilled Journalist, CTV News Vancouver
VANCOUVER -- Finishing school during a global pandemic is nothing like we’ve seen before. No big ceremonies and no big celebrations. But Vancouver student Surprise Munie deserves to be celebrated.
She’s about to graduate from Britannia Secondary School and is heading to Simon Fraser University next year on a full scholarship for basketball. It's a scholarship she said she wanted since Grade 6.
“When I looked at my mum's face, she was so relieved because we don’t have the money for me to go to post-secondary, you know, and when I had received that scholarship, she was immediately at her knees. She was crying,” Munie said. “I’m going to be the first person who goes to post-secondary in my family. My mum didn’t even get to finish elementary school because there was a civil war in Liberia at the time.”
Munie and her mother came to Canada in 2009 as refugees and says the two are very close. "She’s my biggest role model and she’s also a single parent," she said.
Munie helped lead her school team to a win this year at the provincial championships, a game she recalls as her most memorable. But the scholarship isn’t just for her achievements on the basketball court. When Muni moved in high school, she started getting involved in volunteer work. She’s now a mentor with the organization, Girls Who Leap.
“It's basically a program that attracts young ladies from sixth grade up until 12th grade and we just work with girls, helping them understand different things that they need to move forward financial literacy, how to be assertive, being confident with yourself,” Munie said.
She was encouraged to join the group by her basketball coach and mentor, Mitra Tshan, who met Munie about seven years ago.
“She helps run programs, she does breakout sessions, she leads discussions, she leads by example quite a bit and she’s taken on some of our responsibilities on social media,” Tshan said. “She encourages kids to show up and quite often the kids go to her for advice.”
Tshan says Munie has grown into her role as a mentor recently.
“If you had said a year ago she’d be doing interviews like this, she would just shake her head and walk away from you. But she’s really grown and come out of her shell,” Tshan said. “She’s always been mature beyond her years and that's a lot of what she's seen and what she's had to go through as a refugee coming to Canada.”
Munie says she plans to study psychology at university, and her new coach, Bruce Langford, is looking forward to having her as part of the team.
“I’ve watched her a lot of the last five years. She’s really grown as a player,” Langford said.
He’s also hoping she can continue her volunteer work.
“We can’t look at anybody who’s not a good student. SFU is a very challenging school to get into,” Langford said. “She has a ton of community work, like a mind boggling amount, of what she tries to give back to the community.”
Langford laughs a little trying to recall how long he’s been coaching basketball, before guessing it to be around 40 years. And he has big hopes for Munie.
“I've had a player on the Canadian national team every year since…28 years ago or something. It would be nice to have another one," he said.
Check out more of CTV News Vancouver's Class of 2020 series online, and all week on CTV Morning Live and CTV News at Six.
November was jam packed for us! Some of our highlights this month included a drum program in partnership with Britannia elders, REACH Clinic, Indian Residential School Survivors Society and the Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week. Facilitators from IRSSS shared their cultural knowledge and facilitated a drum making workshop with our youth and mentors. LEAP participants were able to drum each week with elders and were invited to share the Women’s Warrior Song as part of the Red Carpet Opening Night at the Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week to raise awareness for our Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls in front of a sold-out crowd at the Orpheum Theatre. It was a truly formidable experience for our girls to challenge stereotypes, vulnerability and exploitation of young women in our inner-city neighbourhoods.
I am a seed in a pot.
Ready to grow,
My soil, my healthy relationships
My water, my passion
My sunshine’s my support.
The environment I grow in is my community
It may be dark or light, good or bad
But with my soil, water and sunshine
I am empowered
I am….healthy and strong
By Hanna, Lauren, Michelle, Shemaiah, Taegan, Tessa
Why am I empowered?
Because I have friends that accept me for who I am
Because I have passions and I want to try new things
Because I am supported
Because I choose to accept instead of being ignorant
Because I am at my best when I have my balance
Because it keeps me going
Because I care for people and other people care for me
Because I have hope
Because I have the respect for my family and peers
We are empowered when we
have a choice
WE ARE EMPOWERED!
By Amaya, Annie, Ciara, Cynthia, Diana, Kiana, Rhodas, Rhonda, Soleen
How do you spell leader?
Listening with an open mind
Everyone is included
Actions speak louder than words
Determined to make a change
Each day brings confidence to those around you
Risk takers succeed the most
Everyone has what it takes to be a LEADER
Have you taken the LEAP?
By Anita, Devon, Eva, Kiera, Montanna, Starling, Summer