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Meet Team ReconciliACTION YEG 21/22: Gavin Wilkes

Updated: Nov 13, 2021

Tansi Nîtôtemtik

What is in a story? I am Gavin Wilkes, treaty band member of the Liidlii Kue First Nation of Fort Simpson, from the Dehcho region of the Northwest Territories. My home is situated on Treaty 11 territory, and I am honoured to be on Treaty 6 territory to be a part of this lived experience with you all.

The blog posts I will be writing will be posted on Wednesdays, so I hope to be able to pick us up through the mid-week slump as we share this journey and experience together!

As an Indigenous person, I grew up being told that the education systems and legal systems were not meant for Indigenous peoples. I began to believe that I did not belong in these types of ‘K-12’ and educational settings, and therefore began to not care about my academic performance. Along the journey of my younger years, I was caught up in the criminal legal system, experienced poverty, intergenerational trauma from the Indian Residential Schools (IRS), and other hurdles of life my fellow Indigenous peers, friends and family have gone through.

University was never on my mind, so I started working right after high school. It wasn’t till after I graduated that I had conversations with family about the value of learning, the reclamation of a voice can be experienced in these educational environments, and the ways I can still be authentic to myself and remain an Indigenous advocate in these spaces. Has it been hard along the way? Always. But so rewarding.

In the legal academic setting, I am working towards fair representation in this type of system as a student, and soon, legal professional, to make small - but meaningful - change towards healing, expansion of opportunity, and reconciliation. I have had a seat on Indigenous committees, worked within varying Indigenous communities, and was a previous first-year representative of the Indigenous Law Students’ Association (ILSA) where I worked with Level Justice. Currently, I am the Law Students’ Association’s ILSA Representative.

So why have I shared these personal things with you? Well it has to do with what is in a story. What is in my story is an Indigenous man’s experience navigating his connection to his identity and culture through years of European influenced education and postsecondary. My Bachelor of Arts degree in Drama and Philosophy will hopefully aid me in the stories I tell through the ReconciliACTION posts, with the philosophical opportunity to ponder the questions I will leave us with each Wednesday.

So as I start things off with sharing things about myself that make up only a part of who I am, I want to ask you to feel free to share with me your experiences with my posts as they come along. As we navigate through this experience together, ask yourself “what is in a story?” And what is in your story as we learn, heal, educate, and reconcile with one another?

Until next time,

Team ReconciliAction YEG

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