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Docuseries highlights Indigenous voices

Courtesy APTN

A 13-episode documentary series, “Warrior Up,” is airing on APTN, with the next episode featuring a familiar face. 

The program highlights Indigenous youth across North America who inspire and bring about changes and innovations across the world and in their communities, including one of Kahnawake’s own youth, Rotshennón:ni Two-Axe.

“We really just wanted to make a positive series that highlighted the positive force of these young people and their inspiring stories,” said Maureen Marovitch, a writer and producer for the show. 

The upcoming episode, which airs on Saturday at 10:30 a.m., features an Indigenous peer-tutor study program called IndigeSTEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) at Dawson College that is created and developed for and by Indigenous students.

“The goal of IndigeSTEM was to increase the number of Indigenous students pursuing STEM-related fields,” said Two-Axe. “This is done by offering academic support to Indigenous students pursuing science-related programs and providing a safe and culturally-sensitive environment for students to connect and network.”

The episode highlights Rotshennón:ni Two-Axe and Kayla Spencer Young, a Cree student from Chisasibi, who co-created the peer study program. “We provide a safe and culturally sensitive environment for Indigenous students to connect and network,” said Two-Axe.

By balancing work, the two students were able to create a program that included cultural activities related to Indigenous people that intertwined with science. 

“We have had Indigenous guest speakers come and speak with students about their field of work and some cultural connections. We have also organized trout and moose heart dissections where we were able to incorporate both anatomy and cultural teachings,” said Two-Axe.

The students worked closely with the First Peoples’ Center at Dawson College, and Joel Trudeau, a physics teacher at the school, also played a huge role in ensuring that the program ran smoothly.

“They try to make science interesting to their peers and to other Indigenous students,” said Marovitch.

Some young Onkwehón:we featured in other episodes include Isaac Garcia, who started a project called Isaac’s Blessing Bags, where he was able to collect donations from his classmates of food and toiletries and hand them out to people who are homeless in St. Paul, Minnesota, as there is a disproportionately large Indigenous homeless population in that area.

The series also includes two episodes that follow a group of five girls who retraced the Trail of Tears in the southern United States on a 950-mile bike ride.

When giving advice to other youth who are looking to have a similar impact or develop Indigenous initiatives, Two-Axe suggested a peer approach. 

“Make sure that it is student-led,” said Two-Axe. “I think that is a crucial part of what made IndigeSTEM work for us and the other Indigenous students at Dawson. Ensuring that it is by and for Indigenous students certainly helped us since we understand the challenges and come from similar backgrounds.”

The series is also available to stream on APTN Lumi.

tyler@easterndoor.com

This article was originally published in print on June 21 in issue 33.25 of The Eastern Door.

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