Octavian Lacatusu/Sooke News Mirror Monico Wasacase

First Nation interns reach out to the world

T’Sou-ke Nation and Victoria International Development Education Association bring interns together for a chance to see the world

To many, home is the world: family, familiarity and peace.

Those who’ve travelled beyond the confines of their own space, however, soon realize there is a much bigger, wider world out there.

For the Victoria International Development Education Association’s International Aboriginal Youth Internship program, this is precisely the idea.

As such, its assembled a group of 10 First Nations interns from across Canada; all women, aged 13 to 33, to travel to Zambia and Uganda for four months, where they will discover a new culture, as well as participate in educational and interactive activities with the local youth.

“We work together with the T’Sou-ke Nation in the process of the three-week briefing, which is what we’re doing right now,” said Rohan Stritch, international program manager.

The group will be split into two – five in Zambia, five in Uganda.

ea Walkus, 27, of the Heiltsuk First Nation in Bella Bella, this is something she’s always hoped for.

“I’ve always wanted to learn about other people’s cultures, get to know their ins and outs of their daily lifestyle,” said Walkus, who will be stationed in a Ugandan village as a craft outreach worker.

Walkus said the journey into a culture is close to her own drive of retaining one’s identity and origins.

“I was raised in a very cultural family. My mother always kept that part of our lives and made sure we were raised to have an appreciation for what my culture has to offer as an indigenous person,” she said.

For others, such as Monico Wasacase, 33, from the Kahkewisteahaw First Nation in Saskatchewan, this is just a continuation of a bigger journey, as she has already travelled through 10 different countries.

Wasacase will be part of the Zambia group.

“I’m really excited for it. I really enjoy new experiences, new cultures,” she said, adding that she’s happy she gets to stay there longer than two weeks and be part of a new community. From that experience, Wasacase hopes to bring back some of the wisdom and experience learned to her own community.

“After visiting all these places, what I hope to do is go back to my community and share with the youth that there are so many opportunities out there to explore and just go out into the world, no matter how far it is. Be brave and go for it,” she said.

The interns underwent a three-week pre-departure briefing at Pearson College in Metchosin, along with the guidance of the T’Sou-ke First Nation.

For Andrew Moore, projects manager for the T’Sou-ke First Nation, this is a realization come to life.

“We’re proud of this group to go out there and experience a whole new world. We’re very excited for them,” Moore said.