Are Indigenous youth in a tug-of-war between community and city? Reflections from a visioning workshop in the Lac Simon Anishnaabeg community (Quebec, Canada).
Hugo Asselin, Roxanne Drainville.
The proportion of Indigenous people living in urban areas has been increasing steadily in Canada over the last few decades. Young Indigenous people are increasingly tempted to leave their community on traditional territory to move to the city, and this could challenge their link to the land. An exploratory youth visioning workshop involving young adults from an Anishnaabeg community located in a forested setting allowed us to lift the veil on the factors pushing them towards the city or pulling them (back) to the community. We show that young Anishnaabeg leave their community to pursue postsecondary education, to work, to access housing, to receive healthcare and other services, to escape bullying, to stay away from drugs, and to seek adventure. However, they are also tempted to stay in – or come back to – the community, where they receive support from family and friends, do not experience racism, contribute to community development, and have easier access to the forest where they can engage in cultural practices. While it might seem that having a job – whether in the community or in the city – could prevent young Anishnaabeg from spending time in the forest, it is rather the opposite. Having a job provides the money needed to pay for pursuing traditional activities on the land. Instead of being in a tug-of-war between community and city, Indigenous youth show a circular mobility pattern in which work, culture, family and education are interrelated.