The MYS Youth Peer Council is an opportunity for young people involved with our programming to help build a strong, inclusive and diverse community, support others, and ground our work at MYS by ensuring that the voices of youth are incorporated through our organization.
In February 2021, members of the council had the opportunity to attend a naming ceremony with Chris Harper, a knowledge keeper at MYS. Chris and the youth participated in a smudge, tobacco offering, feather dusting and storytelling. When this was finished, Chris went to the riverbank to give the group’s offerings to the land. He felt the strength of the North winds across his face, nearly knocking him over. He saw the presence of Thunderbirds watching over the council members.
Traditional teachings explain that the North wind is the strongest and fiercest wind that we experience. The council also believe that as youth, they possess a strong and fierce energy that allows their voices to unsettle and resonate with others. Like the winds, they also have the capacity to be gentle when necessary. When Chris returned to the group, he gave them their name: “North Wind Thunderbirds.”
Along with the name, uncle Chris had a vision for a medallion
The medallion contains four main elements: the Thunderbird, representing the youth’s power and strength; the North wind (the red lines above the Thunderbird) which signifies the balance between being fierce and gentle; the four coloured rings surrounding the Thunderbird, representing the four directions; and finally, the braided sweetgrass surrounding the logo, an important medicine, which here signifies healing, peace and an offering.
We are incredibly thankful to Chris and proud of the youth and their work towards this moment where we formally introduce the name.