The Current

Why 'love is medicine' for Indigenous youth

The Current's public forum was filled with audience members ready to participate in the discussion on how MMIW issues affect children and youth. So we opened the conversation to questions and comments.
The Current's Toronto public forum takes questions and comments from the audience on how MMIW issues affect children and youth. (Pascal Chiarello)

Read story transcript

This special edition of The Current is a public forum held in Toronto looking at how MMIW issues affect children and youth. 

WATCH The Current's five-minute virtual reality documentary about the Highway of Tears. 

The Current's public forum focusing on the impact of how missing and murdered Indigenous women issue affects children and youth opens the floor to the audience and our guests to continue the discussion.

Challenging language used to identify youth

"I think it's really humbling for all of us to be here, and to actually have an opportunity to talk with one another, and talk with such a large audience on such a large public scale," says Krysta Williams, an advocacy and outreach coordinator with the Native Youth Sexual Health Network — an organization by and for Indigenous youth. 
'How we talk about young people matters,' says Krysta Williams of Native Youth Sexual Health Network. (Pascal Chiarello)

"People often say, 'Oh we want to talk about youth issues or we want to hear from youth' but they actually just want to talk to us, or talk about us, as if we're not in the room."

​Williams says language used to talk about youth needs to be constantly challenged.

"Even words like 'at risk' and 'vulnerable' don't speak to the realities that young people are surviving every single day, and they're figuring it out."

"We're amazingly strong to have gotten this far."

'Love is medicine'

Monique Gray Smith, a mother of 13-year-old twins living in Lekwungen territory in B.C., shares her thoughts on the messages given to young people in Canada.

"It makes me think that we are on a journey, where love is medicine. And I don't mean love in the form of romantic love but I mean self-love, love for our family, for our community, love of our culture, our language and our ceremonies. Love of the land, the water and the stars."

Gray Smith says, "It calls on us to create safe spaces for our young people and our children, so youth can learn to identify and talk about feelings, learn to trust and feel love."

"You got to hug them": Jonathan Kakegamic, principal, First Nations School of Toronto

6 years ago
Duration 1:01
"You got to hug them": Jonathan Kakegamic, principal, First Nations School of Toronto

Love is something Jonathan Kakegamic wholeheartedly believes is important to share with his students. As a principal of the First Nations School of Toronto, he's often found hugging them in the hallways.

"With us First Nation people, touch is so important. Residential schools took that away."

Listen to the full segment at the top of this web post.

This event is part of a series of public forums hosted by The Current across the country to explore the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women. 

The Toronto MMIW public forum was produced by The Current's Josh Bloch, Pacinthe Mattar, Ashley Mak and Kathleen Goldhar.

Here are some photos from Toronto's public forum: