Truth, Reconciliation and Community: Insights from Natasha Maxwell

Truth, Reconciliation and Community: Insights from Natasha Maxwell

by Chris Tompkins | June 19, 2024

Natasha Maxwell is the first female supervisor of the Neyaashiinigmiing First Nations Police Service on the Neyaashiinigmiing reserve, which is situated on the eastern shore of the Bruce Peninsula on Georgian Bay. After having worked for York Regional Police for 15 years, Natasha decided to bring what she had learned about proactive community policing back to the reserve she grew up on. Today she is making a difference by empowering the youth in her community and by advocating for equality in First Nations policing.

The role of camp in helping kids step out of their comfort zones

Natasha started bringing Grade 7 and 8 students from Neyaashiinigmiing to Muskoka Woods three years ago and says that the experience helped build resilience in the kids.

“When we first started coming to Muskoka Woods, we only had a few students who came for the first week,” she explains on the Shaping Our World podcast. “Some of them didn’t want to come because they were afraid of interacting with other schools and non-Indigenous youth.”

But word quickly spread among the guests and now, in their third year of attending Muskoka Woods, Natasha says the excitement is through the roof. The kids who were among the first cohort to attend Muskoka Woods are now in Grade 9 and Natasha reports that a lot of them tried out for different teams and groups in their first year of high school and credits that, in part, to their experience at Muskoka Woods.

“I think it encouraged them to step outside of their comfort zones — and that is a good thing,” she says.

The importance of culturally appropriate policing

The fact that Indigenous people are disproportionately represented in the Canadian criminal justice system and grim statistics such as 51% of all victims of human trafficking in Canada are Indigenous women — even though they only make up 5% of the population — are proof of the need for Indigenous policing.

“I’m from the community that I’m policing as are many of the other officers who work here,” Natasha says. “So we know our community, we understand our culture. We understand the spiritual practices. And I think that’s imperative to community safety and well-being.

“We understand the impacts that intergenerational trauma has had on our community, the impacts of colonialism, the impacts of residential schools … so we can better respond to incidents that are happening within our community in a more culturally sensitive manner.”

Natasha explains that even though they have the same job and use the same equipment, Indigenous policing is not considered an essential service like the regular police force, which means they are underfunded, and therefore, not all reserves have First Nations policing. Natasha believes that this directly correlates to the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in Canada’s justice system.

On the unique strengths of her community

As outsiders, many of us are aware of the issues faced by youth on the reserves, but there are so many unique strengths among First Nations youth and their communities that we don’t hear about. Natasha says that because Neyaashiinigmiing is so small — with just over 800 people living on the reserve — the community is very close-knit. The community also ensures that youth learn the language in school along with the traditions of trapping, hunting, and spear fishing, which teaches them to have a reverence for, and an appreciation of, nature.

Natasha also underlines the fact that historically, First Nations communities were matriarchal.

“Women were strong leaders with important roles and a lot of influence,” she says.

Even though a lot of that changed with colonization and the Indian Act (that stripped a woman of her status if she married a non-Indigenous man), her community still has that matriarchal quality to it.

“As a female sergeant here, I feel supported,” she explains. “And we’re influencing the youth and encouraging them in that same manner.”

To hear more of this fascinating conversation and to get Natasha’s take on Truth and Reconciliation and moving forward together, listen to the full episode at the top of this post.

Visit our website to discover a variety of other guests that we’ve had on the show. Shaping Our World episodes are also available wherever you get podcasts.

Transcript

[00:00:11.880] – Speaker 3
Well, hey, everyone. I’m Chris Tompkins, and welcome to the Shaping Our World podcast. My goal is to invite you into a conversation that will lead you more confident in understanding and inspiring the young people in your life. Each episode, we talk with leading experts and offer relevant resources to dive deeper into the world our youth today. Today, we have Natasha Maxwell on the show, and I know this is going to be a very interesting conversation. Natasha has over 20 years of policing experience, and she is currently the supervisor of the Neyaashiinigmiing First Nations Police Service on the Neyaashiinigmiing reserve, which is situated on the east shore of the Bruce Peninsula on Georgian Bay. She has a Bachelor of Human Services degree in Police Studies from Georgian College and a Master’s of Public Safety degree from Wilford Laurier University. She spent 15 years with York Regional Police, where she learned the importance of proactive community policing. Natasha is an advocate for equality in First Nations policing and fights to make sure First Nations communities have the same standard of policing and opportunities as non-indigenous communities. Natasha believes in empowering the local youth so they can reach their full potential for themselves, their families, and for the community.

[00:01:32.660] – Speaker 1
Before we meet our guest, a quick word about an opportunity at Muskoka Woods. Starting as a staff member here, I found it to be more than just a job. I discovered a pathway to personal and professional growth. We are committed to intentional staff development, providing training, and building a network that can propel your career forward. Imagine working where you’re nurtured to grow with access to amazing facilities and staff care events. If you’re seeking a role that prepares you for what’s next, visit jobs.muskokawoods.com for more details. Now, let’s get into the heart of our show. Welcome. It’s so great to have you join us today, Natasha.

[00:02:14.440] – Speaker 2
Thank you. I’m happy to be here.

[00:02:16.020] – Speaker 1
When we dive into our talks with our experts and our guests, we always want to start with framing it under our show’s name about shaping our world. And so we want to ask you, what shaped your world when you were growing up, when you were a kid or a teenager? What were some of the big influences in your life?

[00:02:32.680] – Speaker 2
I would have to say growing up in a First Nations community has really shaped my world. A small community of about 800 people, and always having family around my aunts, my uncles, cousins, being right around the corner, having them around me all the time was really great. And being raised by my mom as a single parent also shaped my world. She was 17 when she had me, and growing up in our community by my mom, who is very young as well. It has really shaped my world with where I am today.

[00:03:09.380] – Speaker 1
Parents definitely shape our world, and we all have different parts of that story. I know there’s a lot of parents listening, so it’s interesting to hear guests from all different perspectives of life, and we’re going to find out a little bit how that shaped your world moving forward. But tell us a little bit about just your life, your world. What shapes your world today? What the things that you do in your free time? What captures your interest? What shapes you today?

[00:03:35.950] – Speaker 2
Well, I have two daughters, a 14-year-old and a 12-year-old. I’m my husband, and I’m married, and we love traveling whenever we have free time, reading, coming into the community, participating in different events when we can. My kids keep me very busy.

[00:03:59.450] – Speaker 1
Yeah. Well, I’m sure there’s a lot of parents that’s saying that’s enough to focus on shaping your… What free time do you actually have as a parent? Exactly. Tell us a little bit about your work. What do you do today? How do you shape the world of young people, teenagers? Tell us about what you do.

[00:04:18.990] – Speaker 2
I’m a sergeant with Neyaashiinigmiing First Nations Police. I started out policing with York Regional Police. I did 15 years with York Regional Police. I also worked in our Community Services Bureau as a School Resource Officer. But then I decided I wanted to take what I had learned and bring those skills back to my own community in my First Nation and hopefully have a positive impact on my community. I think what’s really important to me is positive, proactive community policing and trying to build a for with our community, and in particular, the youth in our community, because I believe those positive relationships are very important in empowering them to be leaders within our community, trying to help them to have their own voices, to advocate for themselves, and to be more to be resilient, because I believe that one day they’re going to be the leaders of our community.

[00:05:27.710] – Speaker 1
Yeah, that’s awesome. And And people who are listening know part of my day job is working at Muskoka Woods. And we host a few different Indigenous communities that bring young people to us. And you’ve been part of one. Just for information, tell us a little bit about… You bring kids away to camp as well. As part of your relationship in the community, they come from a great distance. Can you tell us just a little bit about that as well?

[00:05:54.780] – Speaker 2
Yeah. So Neyaashiinigmiing is about three hours away from Muskoka We’ve been bringing our grades seven and eight. This year will be our third year coming. And we have our grade nine’s mentor, the grades seven and eight that come with us to Muskoka woods. And initially, when we first started coming to Muskoka Woods, we only had a few students who came for the first week, and some of them didn’t want to come because they were afraid about interacting with other schools and non-indigenous youth, I think. But after they heard about what the group had to say the second week, we had really good turnout. And some of you that didn’t go, the first week ended up coming the second week. And now this being our third year, the school board has mentioned that the youth are constantly asking about it. When are we going? When is it happening? Because they haven’t had their permission forms yet. We’re sending them out soon, but they’re so excited. Every time I go to the school, they’re asking about it. And I think it’s had such a positive impact on them. I heard that this year, the grade nine, so they would have had it two years in a row for grade seven and grade eight.

[00:07:15.280] – Speaker 2
In our grade nines, a lot of them participated in trying out for different teams and sports events in their grade nine year. So I think it encouraged them to step outside of their comfort zones, and that that’s a It’s a good thing.

[00:07:30.920] – Speaker 1
That’s awesome. We’ll talk a little bit more about the community and some of the needs, but just also wanted to make that connection to us even talking to know that there is a program and part of something that Muskoka Woods hosts Man, and we’ve learned so much from having kids from different communities come and be a part of our camp and just love to be a part of that. I want to dive right into your work and the things that you do and really get inside your head and your experiences to really help shed light on the work that you’re doing for us who many of us don’t really have any context for what it’s like to grow up, to live, to be part of the community that you have been a part of, and whether you’re paying attention more to the news or what’s going on, what’s happening in Indigenous communities. It’s a significant topic for us as Canadians, and so I consider it a real privilege to to get to hear right from you on what’s going on. I know one of the outcomes from the National Enquiry into Missing and murdered Indigenous Women in 2019 was to establish and strengthen Indigenous policing.

[00:08:43.860] – Speaker 1
One of our guests from last season, Sophia Friesen, who works in an anti-human trafficking organization called Ally Global Foundation, talked about how 51% of all trafficked victims are Indigenous women, even though they only make up about 5% of the population. And similarly, Indigenous people are overrepresented in the Canadian criminal justice system. So these statements and facts really shed light on why Indigenous policing is so important. What would you like to say about the importance of it, how you got into it, the way you view it? Can you tell us a little bit about why this is really significant to you and why you think it’s really significant as a topic and a focus?

[00:09:28.490] – Speaker 2
For sure. For me, First Nations policing is essential within First Nations communities because we’re able to provide culturally appropriate policing. For example, I’m from the community that I’m policing. As our many of the other officers who work here. So we know our community, we understand our culture. We understand the spiritual practices. And I think that’s imperative to community safety and well-being. We understand the impacts that intergenerational trauma has had on our community, the impacts of colonialism, the impacts of residential schools. So we can better respond to incidents that are happening within our community in a more culturally sensitive manner. Right now in First Nations Policing, we’re considered a program, and we’re not considered an essential service like non-indigenous policing is. Yet we have the same training. We We go to calls off reserve. We have the exact same powers. We’re given our use of force equipment by the Commissioner as well, the Commissioner of OPP. But yet our funding for First Nations Policing, because it’s a program, is deemed discretionary. So as a result of the lack of funding within First Nations policing, we don’t have 24/7 policing within our communities and a lot of First Nations communities.

[00:10:58.780] – Speaker 2
So I believe that’s what’s impacted the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in Canada’s justice system, for sure.

[00:11:08.070] – Speaker 1
Can you tell us a little bit about what it looks like having Indigenous police presence in the community, how that impacts young people from your personal experience, how you’ve seen the benefits of that?

[00:11:20.800] – Speaker 2
For sure. Prior, for example, to Muskoka Woods, we would host community events, and such in the community, pow wow, we would host a booth, for example. And a lot of community would look at us and they would be afraid to come up and talk, or they would quietly walk by. Whereas now the youth will come up and give us hugs and talk to us and ask, How’s it going? They’re not afraid of us. They’ll talk to us like any other member of the community. And I believe that the police should be the community. You know what I mean? It should be all one. And we were able to represent represent the community that we serve.

[00:12:02.600] – Speaker 1
I think it’s true for all young people. I think people get into trouble, human beings, particularly young people, when they retreat and withdraw into themselves a lot. And so the more positive relationships that they have, places they can talk, people they can look up to, caring adults. I know often it’s not in the regular world would necessarily think of police as as those type of caring adults. But I think that’s part of what you’re saying is to have a positive presence in the lives of young people, that you can have relationship with people, even as an authority, I think, is probably a big deal in tearing down some of the barriers and creating open lines of communication and forming relationships because we know how significant relationships are. When young people are in fractured communities of any shape, could you just even tell me what that’s like for you? How do you go about building those relationships? Can you even share some stories about what you’ve seen and experienced in that area?

[00:13:11.770] – Speaker 2
If I see some youth walking on the road, for example, maybe in the summer, they’re going fishing or they’re hanging out with friends before, if you’d go up and offer them just a ride to wherever they’re going to, they might have said, No, I’m good. But now, they’ll all pile in and it’s It’s, yeah, where are you going? How are things going? And it’s a conversation. And they’re willing to talk to us now. And we’re not just dealing with them and talking to them when there’s something wrong. It’s when things are good, too. And that’s how it should be to have that positive relationship. And I think also they see us as role models that I’ve had a couple of students say that they want to get into policing now because they look at it differently, I think, right? And they see it as a positive reserve thing, and they see maybe I could do that someday.

[00:14:04.470] – Speaker 1
That’s awesome. From your perspective, maybe let’s dive into a little more detail about what young people are facing on the reserve and in the communities that you serve. What are some of the major issues? We hear about it on the news, but you’re firsthand right in there. So help us understand what it’s like to be a young person today and some of the issues they’re facing in the reserve.

[00:14:28.530] – Speaker 2
So something you need First Nation people is going to be the intergenerational trauma that’s impacting us from residential schools, the colonialism. Even more recently, we’ve called also the state of emergency as a result of the opioid crisis basis. And given that we’re such a small community, we’re a very close-knit community, as are a lot of First Nation’s community, it impacts us more. You know the people, they see and hear the stories, they understand what happening, and they may be related to those people. That’s something that’s happened, and that’s hard. That’s difficult. It impacts the whole community. Also, growing up in the community, and I grew up in the community, it’s so close-knit. You’re with the same group from daycare all the way up, and you’re not leaving until you go to high school. So it can be intimidating when it comes time to leave and go to high school to grade nine, and then you’re in with the rest of the school system, right? I think it’s a good thing that we’re close knit, but it also can be tough as well when it comes time to leaving the community. I know I found it tough because you’re with your family and your friends all the time, right?

[00:15:48.910] – Speaker 2
But then when you’re going off, you don’t know people, and you’re starting at square one. So that can be hard.

[00:15:56.670] – Speaker 1
Yeah. As you were just talking about intergenerational trauma caused by the residential schools and the whole history of colonialism in Canada, one of the things that we talked about before the interview is that in general, First Nations people try not to rock the boat. And even as we were talking earlier, you said a lot of the kids first coming to Muskoka Woods were really shy about camp and didn’t even want to go. Can you talk about the importance of building resilience among kids in the How are you and the community building some resilience within young people on the reserve?

[00:16:36.700] – Speaker 2
We’re going into the schools. We do presentations with them. We do bike rodeos with them, even in the daycares, like with the little kids. We go in and read stories with them, talk to them. It’s not always just about when there’s something bad and when we get a call for service. Just always encouraging them to challenge themselves themselves and step outside of their comfort zones, and that that’s okay, right? And that they can do that and build rapport and relationships with other people outside of their comfort zones as well. And also talking to them about our own experiences and how we’ve overcome obstacles and challenges in our lives. I talk to them, I go in and do presentations with them in the schools, and also when we’re at camp, I talk to them about how I grew here in this community. And I was raised by a 17-year-old mother, and when I grew up, we had snow coming in our windows. And I remember getting my gifts delivered by social services. And I remember how when I left the community, I didn’t know what a roundabout was when I was driving my police cruiser around for the first time.

[00:17:53.850] – Speaker 2
But that I overcame it and I was determined and that they do the same thing as well. And just really mentoring them and challenging them and giving them a voice and trying to encourage them to find those leadership qualities within themselves.

[00:18:16.630] – Speaker 1
That’s awesome. We often on the show, when we’re talking about young people or really things like new technology or whatever, we often talk about discerning the vulnerability and affirming the virtue. And I think when it’s talking about young people, and maybe even in particular, Indigenous youth, because for many of us, we’re outside of the community, it’s easy to focus on the problems and the issues, where as there’s a lot of virtuous things. There’s a lot of strengths and positive things that are happening with many of the youth that you work with, and even just listening to your own story as you were just sharing that. So can you share us a little bit about what you see as some of the really unique strengths of the young people that you serve in your community and First Nation’s youth in general?

[00:19:08.490] – Speaker 2
For sure. It’s great because up here, they’re able to learn our language, their language in school. They’re able to learn about our culture in the school and hunting and trapping, spear phishing. They learn the stories about our histories and teachings from the elders. And also in our culture, historically, we were a matriarchal community where women were strong leaders with important roles and had a strong influence on the community. But with colonization, men have taken over that role, and the Indian Act furthered that we’re at one point, women would lose their status if they married a non-indigenous man. And I find my community still has that matriarchal quality to it. And as a female sergeant here, I feel supported. And I find that with that, we’re also influencing the youth and we’re able… That same motherly quality, maybe. I don’t know if that’s how you want to put it, but- Yeah. Where we’re speaking to the youth and encouraging them in that same manner.

[00:20:25.670] – Speaker 1
I know from my limited experience with some of the young people that come to camp, as you mentioned, a lot of them are pretty shy and withdrawn. For a strange adult who’s saying hi or interacting with them. But one of the things that I’ve really found is when you break through the surface a little bit, so many of the young people that I’ve met from the different reserves that have come are just such kind young people. There’s a gentleness and a kindness to them that you often don’t experience from that group in general, I would say. And that’s something I’ve always noted and admired about the young people, at least the ones that I’ve met.

[00:21:10.320] – Speaker 2
Absolutely. I noticed, too, with them. I remember we were When we were at Ms. Scoula Wood, something that really stood out to me is there was the big swing. And there was another one where they were balancing through the trees. I can’t remember what it was called, but they They were always encouraging each other. And you can do this. You got it. And because they’re such a close-knit group, they understand, they know each other’s families. It’s not just they know that student, but they know each other’s families, each other’s aunts and uncles. They know the hardships they’ve been through, but they know the positives as well. They’re going out after school to youth groups and different events on weekends and raising money for little NHL hockey trips and stuff like that. And they’re so supportive of each other. It’s amazing. They’re almost like brothers and sisters. They’re just so close and supportive of one another.

[00:22:16.280] – Speaker 1
Yeah, what an incredible strength. Speaking just about you and your role, I know you’re a huge Indigenous policing advocate, and within that, have had to advocate for your police force to be recognized in this central service, even though you do the same things and use the same equipment as other OPP forces. You’ve advocated for pay equity, equitable benefits, et cetera, and you bring a lot of that from your time at York region. What inspires you to keep pushing and advocating and really trying to make a difference?

[00:22:53.140] – Speaker 2
Because I really want my community to have, and all First Nations communities, to have the same opportunities afforded to them as non-indigenous communities. I really want Indigenous policing to be equitable, the same as what non-indigenous policing have. And so we can attract the same police officers to our communities So we can keep our police candidates, and then they’re not leaving us to go to another service because maybe they have a better pension or better equipment. So our community will benefit from that, from having those same standards. Police I think should be a basic human right, just like water and housing, health, social services. But we’re lacking in a lot of those areas, and it’s not equitable, but it really, really should be.

[00:23:42.890] – Speaker 1
What do you think it’s going to take to turn the tide on that?

[00:23:46.790] – Speaker 2
I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s going to be court action or we’ve seen some pretty horrendous things, right? Like, right now, the overrepresentation in the prison system of Indigenous people is almost at 50 %, and that it’s being seen as a crisis, but we only make up 5 % of the population. And if that doesn’t say we need to do something about this, then I don’t know what it does.

[00:24:18.840] – Speaker 1
And I think with a lot of these things, it starts by even knowing. When we were preparing for this and I was reading this, I was like, what? Like a OPP officer officer or police officer has different equipment and pay in a different community? And I know that happens in the world, but I wouldn’t have necessarily thought that someone like you would have to really advocate for Indigenous police services, how you are. I think more people like us and our listeners who are listening to this that go, Hold on a sec. I mean, again, I don’t know how you draw lines to positive solves for that, but I think even knowing. I didn’t know that until we talked today. And so I think for all of us, getting more aware of what’s going on in communities outside our own and where the injustices are and some of the lack of services and opportunities and what can the general public do to start to join people like yourself and advocating for that, I think, is something that I’m thinking about. I don’t know the answer either, but I think I think this has been eye-opening for me on that.

[00:25:33.130] – Speaker 1
And so for me, that segues to my next question. The Canadian government, I’m in Toronto, and you’re north of us here. Our government established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and have marked September 30th as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. Our young people are learning more about the history of the residential schools in their school experiences. Canadians wear orange shirts on that day. What do you think about truth and reconciliation as a First Nations woman, and especially as a police sergeant in a community profoundly affected by residential schools? And can you point out, is it making a difference? Are there positive effects to this? Do you think we’re in danger of making it a token thing that we do? Like everyone wears orange, so we’re doing our part and that’s okay. What would you say to us to get a little bit more insight into how we can take this from just marking into our calendar and making it something that actually works towards what the day is really about.

[00:26:40.860] – Speaker 2
For sure. I think it’s important to remember and understand the history of residential schools and the intergenerational trauma that Indigenous people are dealing with as a result of that. I think it needs to be more than just about wearing an orange shirt and that everyone is doing their part to educate themselves about the history throughout the year. So it’s not just one day a year. And I think it’s important to come together on that day as well with different communities in your area and unite with them and let them know that you’re there and you support and talking about it, right? Understanding. I think education and understanding that history is really, really I know.

[00:27:31.310] – Speaker 1
I know sometimes you get to a day like that. And when you’re an adult or a parent like myself, we’re not in school anymore, so you don’t get the school assemblies or the more focused information about it. I live in York region, you are a police officer in York region. As an example, where would you point me to find out more about this type of stuff? What can I do to even learn more and find out more about some of the real issues that are connected to this National Day of Truth and Reconciliation?

[00:28:07.480] – Speaker 2
You could research it yourself and make sure you understand what it’s about. There’s a First Nations community within York region as well, maybe reaching out to them and see what events are taking place in or around their area for Truth and Reconciliation Day or even throughout the year and see how you could participate in what you could do to make a difference for your community. I think that’s important. I think even conversations just like this, right? It’s important to talk about it. I think people are afraid to ask or ask questions or have those conversations. But I think having those conversations are a really good start.

[00:28:53.450] – Speaker 1
Yeah, that’s good. That’s helpful because I think sometimes we’re afraid of initiating or having conversations because as a white British person, you’re like, Oh, man, I don’t want to get it wrong or say the wrong thing or ask the wrong question or pronounce something the wrong way. And so sometimes we’re just too polite, but not even polite. We’re afraid. And so I think getting over that and engaging in conversations and with a good heart to really know and to really understand and to comprehend on a different way what bringing about in our country could look like. I think sometimes we got to get over it and break down some of those barriers and find people in our community that have had those experiences or have grown up in reserves or are Indigenous people and to be curious and ask questions and get involved because it’s the relationship side, right? It’s like, I know you, and now I can even experience through you a little bit what it’s like to in your community because we’ve had this conversation.

[00:30:02.130] – Speaker 2
Absolutely. And the last one just closed in 1996, right? So it’s not like it was… It’s not that long ago in the grand scheme of things. So it’s still like that opened wound, right? It’s still fresh.

[00:30:19.730] – Speaker 1
Yeah. What changes do you think are most imperative on behalf of the government and Canadian citizens to help change the outcome for First Nations and other Indigenous communities? What are some positive ways? Once we’ve gathered information and know and learn, how can we move forward? What can we start to do to bring about change? What change is really need it?

[00:30:43.060] – Speaker 2
I think it’s important to work together. I think it’s important to talk to First Nations and ask, not assume that you know what First Nations communities want, but ask how you can help. I also I also think it’s really important to ensure First Nations people have a seat at decision making tables so that people aren’t making decisions on our behalf, but asking us to be there and take part in it. And then I also think it’s important to listen. So listen to what First Nations people’s needs are and ensure you’re working with us and that we’re not just another check in the box. And yeah, having conversations like this in education absolutely important.

[00:31:31.130] – Speaker 1
That’s great. I mean, it has been such a good conversation and so insightful. I guess maybe as we’re wrapping up, Natasha, any final thoughts or insight or perspective? Is there anything left to say that would help our listeners really understand the young people you’re working with, the heart behind what you’re doing, and just give us another snapshot on what it’s like to be a young person today in a reserve, and what are your hopes for your community?

[00:31:59.980] – Speaker 2
My hopes for my community are that we would be afforded the same services and the same opportunities as any non-indigenous community. I would love to see us have all of the same opportunities that our youth would have the same opportunities as non-indigenous youth, that our policing would have the same opportunities and be afforded the same funding as non-indigenous communities so that we can provide those same services to First Nations communities. I think our quality is huge.

[00:32:40.140] – Speaker 1
Well, thank you so much for sharing that with us and for being one who’s actually fighting for that. And I love your story. It’s inspiring to me. I love that the kids get to come to camp and to have that experience. We need to keep doing it and bring even more over the years. And I just think that’s such a fun and cool experience. And I really have appreciated you sharing with us. I have learned so much. I’m inspired and encouraged to find out a bit more and to even ask some simple questions of myself and our family on what can we do to join you in that struggle. So thank you so much for sharing. It has been such a pleasure to have you with us today, Tasha.

[00:33:22.070] – Speaker 2
It is a pleasure being here. Thank you so much for having me.

About the Author

Chris Tompkins is the CEO of Muskoka Woods. He holds a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Guelph, a teacher’s college degree from the University of Toronto and a Master’s degree in Youth Development from Clemson University. His experience leading in local community, school, church and camp settings has spanned over 20 years. His current role and expertise generates a demand for him to speak with teens and consult with youth leaders. Chris hosts the Muskoka Woods podcast, Shaping Our World where he speaks with youth development experts. He is an avid sports fan who enjoys an afternoon with a big cup of coffee and a good book. Chris resides in Stouffville, Ontario with his wife and daughter.
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Recent Posts

Building Strong Family Connections with Aly Pain

Building Strong Family Connections with Aly Pain

Parenting expert, life coach, and relationship systems coach, Aly Pain, returns to the podcast to talk about how parents can nurture and strengthen their relationship with their teens. Her belief is that neither parenting a teen nor being a teen has to be as hard as...

Nurturing Faith and Confidence in Today’s Youth with Brad Griffin

Nurturing Faith and Confidence in Today’s Youth with Brad Griffin

Brad Griffin is Senior Director of Content and Research at the Fuller Youth Institute, where he develops research-based training for youth ministry leaders and families. He has co-authored more than 15 books, including Faith Beyond Youth Group, 3 Big Questions That...

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