The shutting down of the Mi'kmaq Native Friendship Centre's Kitpu Youth Program, and subsequent campaign to reinstate it, was the catalyst for a national day of action Thursday against the federal government's decision to freeze funds for Cultural Connections for Aboriginal Youth programs across the country.
The Halifax contingent held a rally in Grand Parade Square Thursday, which opened with a Mi'kmaq honour song and drumming. Indigenous elder Billy Lewis said a few words, followed by Kitpu Youth Program coordinator Glen Knockwood. Local MP Megan Leslie was also present, providing her take on the federal government's decision.
Most touching, though, were the testimonials from those directly affected by the program: Tayla Paul, a local Indigenous woman who experienced a difficult childhood and is thrilled her teenage children can benefit from Kitpu; and three youth whose lives were, in their words, irrevocably changed by the friendship centre's doors being open to them.
Following the speeches, the group marched through downtown Halifax holding candles. "Walk with fire and light" is the campaign slogan. The participants held posters, beat drums and chanted as they wound their way to the friendship centre.
The campaigning doesn't end with the rally. The Halifax support group has several emergency fundraisers planned, such as an art auction and live concert Friday night, and a yet-to-be-scheduled youth performance event. There is also discussion about making the twelfth of every month a day of action for this cause until the government reverses its decision.
Please enjoy the above audio from the July 12 rally and march. Photos of the event can be found here.