Centre launches new podcast series written, produced and hosted by Indigenous youth

The Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre at UBC has launched a new podcast series written, produced and hosted by Indigenous youth. Love, Land and Spirit is a six-episode series that explores topics of importance to youth, including LGBTQ2S+ and Indigiqueer identities, repatriation, the connections between art and ceremony, and the child welfare and education systems. It brings Indigenous youth, between the ages of 18 and 30, together in dialogue with Elders and other knowledge keepers.

The series was designed by the Centre’s Community Outreach Coordinator Jess Boon early on in the COVID-19 pandemic. “In the first year of the pandemic, there were obvious challenges presented to the Centre’s community engagement activities. We wanted to create a youth-driven project that followed Covid safety guidelines while bringing together youth, Elders and other knowledge holders to dialogue about the legacies of residential schools, the ongoing impacts of colonialism in Canada, and other topics important in their lives. A youth driven podcast project, facilitated over zoom, seemed appropriate for pandemic times.”

Hosts were selected via an open-call application process, and interviews were conducted over zoom. The Centre partnered with Cited Media, an independent media company with expertise in creating podcasts with community groups, for production services. The Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) came on board in a key advisory role, providing cultural support and guidance and ensuring that the process was trauma-informed and culturally safe for participants. The production team met weekly between April 2021 and January 2022 to complete the six hour-long episodes.

The project underscores the importance of encouraging Indigenous youth to share their unique stories and perspectives. The lasting legacies of the residential school system and other colonial policies in Canada take on many forms, and those impacts are evident in the experiences of intergenerational survivors. Validating youth’s agency to tell their truths is both empowering for the participants and supports healing for the collective community.

“This project of creating podcasts envisioned, directed and presented by youth has been incredible,” states Chas Coultee, MMIWG Coordinator with the IRSSS. “Creating safe spaces for youth to tell the stories that they have passion for has been an honour to witness and support. This generation of young people are well informed, brilliant and beyond interesting. It is exciting that know that these are some of the exceptional Indigenous youth leading us into a bright tomorrow.”

The project responds to a number of UBC’s institutional priorities. In UBC’s 2018 Apology to residential school Survivors, UBC President Santa Ono stressed the importance of the Centre’s role in fulfilling UBC’s core commitment to “build collaborative relationships that work to the benefit of communities rather than their detriment.” The university’s stated vision is “inspiring people, ideas and actions for a better world,” and goals in the university’s Strategic Plan and Indigenous Strategic Plan (ISP) speak further to the relevance of this type of engagement work.

“The Love, Land and Spirit podcast series is an important example of how UBC can collaborate effectively with community in a way that is truly reciprocal and mutually beneficial,” explains Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, Academic Director of the IRSHD Centre. “Not only does this project build capacity and empower Indigenous youth, it also helps build stronger UBC-community relationships and provides an opportunity for deeper understanding amongst staff, students and faculty as we strive to realize UBC’s vision and commitments to building respectful relationships with Indigenous people.”

Episodes 1 is now live and subsequent episodes will be released weekly each Thursday for the next five weeks. Learn more and Listen here.