Blood Tribe youth gather to learn about future careers in media, arts

From filmmaking to journalism, Indigenous youth in southern Alberta listened to practitioners and played with equipment.

Kainai Children Services organized a First Nation youth summit hosted by Piikani filmmaker Cowboy Smithx

Cowboy Smithx is an Indigenous filmmaker from the Piikani First Nation. (Livia Manywounds/CBC)

Kainai youth stay busy playing a game of basketball as they wait for their afternoon sessions to begin. They're on the Blood reserve to learn about future careers in media and the arts.

The First Nation youth ranging from eight to 17-years-old had the opportunity to listen to keynote speakers, learn about different types of equipment used in media and try their hand at everything from photography to filmmaking.

"This opportunity to mentor and transfer knowledge to the next generation through the arts, through the media, we're setting up future generations for success," said Piikani filmmaker Cowboy Smithx.

Kainai Children Services organized the youth summit that took place at Kainai's multi-purpose building this past week in Standoff, about 200 kilometres south of Calgary.

'Carve out a larger story'

Smithx was the lead facilitator for the three-day event.

"This isn't about just this week. We're trying to build relationships and carve out a larger story" he said.

The event had a variety of workshops that focused on areas like creative writing, film narrative, film documentary, post-production, podcasting, theatre, culinary, culture, and sports.

Organizers invited Indigenous role models from each industry to host different sessions, giving them a taste of working in different fields.

Shayla Stonechild is a TV host for APTN and one of the youth facilitators for the event. (Livia Manywounds/CBC)

"I have a feeling some of these young people someday are going to be producing amazing work in whatever it is they pursue, whether it is music, art, film or writing," said Smithx. 

"We're just here to give them their first big step in that direction."


Shayla Stonechild is a TV host for APTN's Red Earth Uncovered and one of the youth facilitators for the event.

"Indigenous youth telling their own stories from their own tribe and their own community, it is so important and who better than us to tell the story," she said. 

Over the course of the three-day event, the TV host worked with youth on owning their gift as natural Indigenous storytellers. 

"Working with Indigenous youth and unlocking their fullest potential through storytelling, through meditation, movement, and medicine — coming back to our Indigenous worldview. And I think it is really important that the kids grow up to realize that they already have it within them, we're just giving them the tools to unlock what they already have," said Stonechild.

Katana Fox-Williams is a grade nine student at Cardston high school and a participant in the summit for the past two years. (Livia Manywounds/CBC)

She encourages all Indigenous youth interested in media and the arts to reach their fullest potential by setting goals every day that will create ripple effects.

"If you keep doing that and you're persistent, next thing you know you're living your dream," said Stonechild.

'It's really cool'

Katana Fox-Williams is a grade nine student at Cardston High School who has participated in the youth summit for the past two years. 

"I was in the film session and it was a lot of lighting, being on camera, the different set takes and stuff like that. It's really cool," she said. 

Fox-Williams is interested in the film industry and aspires to learn more from the summit.

"I do have a lot of opportunities to be who I want to be and just be proud of it," she said.


Livia Manywounds is a reporter with the CBC in Calgary, a rodeo competitor and a proud member of the Tsuut’ina First Nation.