It has been over a year since Joanne Rogers, a retired former Justice of the Peace and Chief of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation community, began the 1st Aamjiwnaang Scout Group. After being approached by a friend about Scouting, she decided it was time her local community started its very own Scout Group. The community offered many programs for teens and adults, but Chief Rogers saw a gap in the opportunities for youth ages 5-10. To begin her Scouting journey, Chief Rogers wrote an article in her local community newsletter stating that a newly formed Cub Scout Group was looking for both Scouts and Scouters to join the Movement. At the end of the article she wrote, “Scouts is the start of something great!” The quote was truly a symbol of things to come for the small but growing Scout Group in Aamjiwnaang.
After placing the article in the local newsletter, Chief Rogers went door-to-door in her community to meet with local parents and youth to discuss Scouting and positive impact it would have on youth development. It was important for her to meet one-on-one with local community members to discuss the program, and at the same time it gave her an opportunity to recruit new youth and Volunteers.
For Chief Rogers, Scouting was a great way for youth to have fun while also exploring their cultural heritage. “Scouting allowed us to align the program to our culture and make it our own. We incorporated our traditional teachings into the program while the kids still tell us what they want to do (Youth-led),” stated Chief Rogers. For her and her Scouters, there was a clear synergy between the Scouting program and the Aamjiwnaang culture. One of the Scouters that volunteered with the first Cub Pack was Phil Meness. He saw the same potential with Scouting that Joanne did. “The leaders were insistent that we apply our culture and heritage to the Cub Scouts program,” stated Scouter Phil. “After reviewing the leader’s recommendations and the program of Scouts Canada’s new Canadian Path, we found that they both ran parallel in the overall goals and objectives in the program delivery to youth in the community. Our youth in native communities are the fastest growing population statistically, and our youth are wanting to find our culture, our heritage and the original teachings.” For Scouter Phil, with The Canadian Path, Scouts Canada was the first organization to truly understand and run parallel to their cultural beliefs.
Scouting allowed us to align the program to our culture and make it our own.
With the help of Area Support Manager, David Stokes, the Group successfully implemented its very first Cub Pack. With twenty youth and 6 Scouters, the Cub Pack was the talk of the town. From Cub Kar Races to canoe trips to cultural exploration with drumming and crafting traditional skirts, the 1st Aamjiwnaang Cub Pack created new Scouting adventures while exploring their own cultural heritage. The Pack Scouters communicate their adventures frequently with parents, community members and sponsors through their community newsletter. With the growing popularity of the Pack, community members expressed interest in creating a Beaver Colony. This year the Group is now expanding its reach to incorporate its very first Beaver Section; growing their Scouting Group on The Canadian Path.
“Chief Rogers believes that this can be the beginning of a new exciting adventures in true partnership with Scouts Canada. Partnership defined by Chief Rogers is a relationship that recognizes and respects our way of life, our teachings, our values, our knowledge which makes for a successful path towards the future,” stated Scouter Phil. The 1st Aamjiwnaang Scout Group is hoping to influence other First Nations communities nearby to join Scouting. They believe together they can create more opportunities for their local youth through Scouting.