The Regional Multicultural Youth Council (RMYC) started the Girl Power program in Thunder Bay to promote a youth-to-youth approach to empower young women to make a difference. The idea came out of a need to engage girls and young women in activities that raise awareness on feminism, social justice and equality. After working with all girls for a while, the Youth Council realized that Aboriginal young women faced more barriers and challenges that can be attributed to the intergenerational impacts of residential schools. And as life givers/child-bearers, problems women face or experience can be easily transmitted or passed on to their families through socialization, rearing, nurturing and other habits. Therefore, Revolution: Girl Style aims to empower young Aboriginal women who are especially vulnerable to abuse, violence, risk and negative lifestyles that can be easily perpetuated as a social cycle. We believe that training peer leaders and developing role models among young Aboriginal women who reach out to other girls and use positive peer influence to make a difference will help to break the negative cycles.
The Youth Council’s strategy is to develop team leaders who will organize meetings and special events for aboriginal girls to get together, share information and change ideas to enhance their status. Holding regular meetings, presentations and workshops will provide safe places for the young women to discuss their priorities and learn about social issues that affect them directly. The organizing team will consult with aboriginal girls on issues of concern and mutual interest. Together, they will plan activities that build self esteem, and challenge girls to learn about woman hood, and the special role they play in the development of their communities. The RMYC is a regional network serving youths in small isolated communities across Northwestern Ontario. Youth communicate well with other youths and, by providing them with relevant skills to connect with their peers, Revolution: Girl Style will engage more young people in the project and the activities organized. For experience and knowledge, the project leaders will invite resource people and Elders to train peer mentors and share teachings young women need to know as future mothers and life-givers, as well as the consequences of risky behaviour that makes them vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, violence, and bearing children affected by preventable diseases such as fetal alcohol syndrome/fetal alcohol effects, prescription drug abuse withdrawal symptoms etc. Learn about cultural identity, the value of a good education, personal safety, the importance of healthy lifestyles and so forth.