New Fire

What does it mean to 'come of age'?

Many First Nations have traditions that mark the transition to womanhood or manhood - but what does it really mean to 'come of age'?

What does 'coming of age' mean to you? Many Nations have ceremonies that mark the transition to womanhood or manhood... but those traditions are harder and harder to find.

So this week, New Fire features the stories of indigenous youth 'coming of age' in their own way:

  • Starting at puberty, Alexa Manuel, spent thirteen months incorporating coming-of-age ceremony in to every minute of her life. From standing in an ice-cold river, to avoiding interaction with boys, Alexa and members of her family have taken it upon themselves to help bring these traditions back to the Upper Nicola Okanagan Nation in BC.
  • In some indigenous communities, coming of age coincides with receiving a new name. But when you receive your name - what do you do with it? Khelsilem, a young Squamish and Kwakwaka'wakw educator, explains why he transitioned from his birth name to his indigenous name.  
  • Growing up, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers looked up to her Mom and Dad as an example of what it meant to be in love - so coming to terms with their split was difficult. And it wasn't until she delved in to their history, through film, that she really came to understand her family's story.
  • Adopted by a non-indigenous family when he was young, Chad Anderson struggled to connect to his aboriginal heritage. He'll explain how he finally embraced his identity through ceremony... and comedy.