This booklet was the result of a collaboration between the International Institute for Child Rights and Development and the Songhees Youth Group. The booklet also represents an important collaboration connecting the United Nations Decade of the Worlds' Indigenous Peoples (1995-2004) and the near universal ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In these pages, you will hear the voices of Aboriginal youth of today reflect on the changes that have impacted their people during the last hundred and fifty-six years since the first European traders arrived on this magnificent coastline. You will hear the echo of the Thunderbird, the Coast Salish, supernatural being that brings change, transformation, and in conjunction with the teachings of the old people, strength. These echoes are found in the descriptions of the bighouse, canoe, and strong connection with the land that continues to nurture young and old. You will also hear the echo of these wings of change. Listen to the hardship facing many Aboriginal youth living on reserve, brought about by forced removal from ancestral lands, and the resulting challenge of learning to walk in the two worlds of their own people and the dominant society. When the great Thunderbird prepares to fly, thunder is heard and lightning is spread across the land, the voices of the old people ready themselves to sing and to pray. Flight of the Thunderbird In this booklet you will have the opportunity to discover something of the richness of the culture, the strength of the connection with the earth and the ancestors, and the importance of strong Elders in helping bridge these worlds. They are the most visible connection with the traditions and gifts of the creator and the ancestors. Old people have consistently asked their families to 'Make their Minds Strong'.
The youth belong to a very large Coast Salish family whose gifts are found in the Shaker Church and the Winterdance complex. We hope in reading these pages and in entering the world of the youth of Lekwungen, that you will enjoy the richness of their world and perhaps share with us the joy of moving our collective society a stage further in understanding the meaning of human rights. An understanding that stems from the reflection of what it is to be human in our creative diversity. The combination of traditional strengths and the application of the Convention on the Rights of the Child has allowed the great Thunderbird to reinforce the process of change, transformation and strength. This booklet is meant to honour the old people, the young, and collaboration.