#WeSeeYou day shines light on remote Indigenous communities

Isabel DeRoy-Olson
Story by Isabel DeRoy-Olson and CBC Kids News • 2021-01-11 08:00

Jan. 11 is the first #WeSeeYou day

Growing up in a remote Indigenous community, Dwight Ballantyne often felt frustrated and unseen by other Canadians.

As much support and love he received from family, Ballantyne felt like other Canadians didn’t know he existed.

“From my experience, I always felt like I was invisible,” said the 25-year-old from Montreal Cree Lake First Nation in Northern Saskatchewan.

Wanting to highlight Indigenous youth and shine a light on what life is like on reservations, he created the Ballantyne Project, including the first #WeSeeYou day on Jan. 11.

The Ballantyne Project was launched by Ballantyne in April 2019.

It started as a series of school presentations about his life and experiences.

The project has since grown to involve more ideas for Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth to learn from each other.

Monday’s #WeSeeYou Day will involve a social media takeover of the hashtag, letting Indigenous youth know that they are seen and heard.

CBC Kids News contributor Isabel DeRoy-Olson first heard about the hashtag on TikTok. Click play to find out more!

Ballantyne has also been sending activity boxes to Indigenous youth and communities affected by COVID-19 lockdowns.

They include beading and colouring supplies, as well as other craft supplies.

As part of the Ballantyne Project, more than 450 activity boxes full of craft supplies have been mailed to 10 Indigenous communities under lockdown. (Image credit: The Ballantyne Project/Facebook)

While the activity box project is now winding down, Ballantyne said the “overwhelming” response on social media made sure that Indigenous youth felt seen.

Learning and understanding from each other

For non-Indigenous Canadians, Ballantyne hopes for better education and awareness on Indigenous issues.

His advice?

“Tap into the resources that you have all around here to learn Indigenous culture and the history and what we've been through these past centuries,” Ballantyne said.

He said he hopes to continue to connect Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in the future.

“My mission is to bridge the gap,” Ballantyne said.

Dwight Ballantyne grew up in Montreal Cree Lake First Nation in Northern Saskatchewan. (Image credit: The Ballantyne Project/Facebook)

His ultimate goal is ensuring that no Indigenous youth feel unseen or unheard.

“We see them,” he said.

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About the Contributor

Isabel DeRoy-Olson
Isabel DeRoy-Olson
CBC Kids News Contributor
Isabel DeRoy-Olson is a Grade 12 student and lives in North Vancouver on Tsleil Waututh territory. She is a citizen of the Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation from the Yukon territory and Annishabe from Manitoba. Isabel is passionate about acting and dancing and loves to learn more about Indigenous identity, gender and social justice. She is excited about the opportunity to start these conversations and more with kids across Canada.

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