The past few days have been hectic. This will happen when you add 20 or so people to the camp and 15 of those people are kids.
We were joined by youth participants of the NCES and their resilience counsellors for the Art and Archaeology Program going on at Little John. This was something that I was very much looking forward to as both art and archaeology are two loves of mine as well as working with youth. Because kids are great. These kids were no exception. Despite the labels of "at-risk" and "troubled", they were pretty well like all other kids their age in that they want their surroundings to engage them, many want to learn new things, try new things, they want to have a good life. Unfortunately, it's clear in a few minutes of conversation that events or circumstances have inhibited them from fulfilling this wish at many points in their lives. I hope that their time here was part of their good life.
The lavel "troubled" set me up to almost fear them or at least be intimidated by them. "At risk": at risk of what? Of making a better life for themselves? Of rising above their situation? Let's hope.
Labels aren't always just words. An image can be a label in itself. What do you think of when you think of a Native person? Do you think of a drunk brown man on 17th Avenue or do you think of a blonde, blue eye girl from the wolf clan who excavated her archaeology unit meticulously? If you saw me on the street in my current state would you know me as a middle class university student or a homeless person? (Because rest assured, I look more like the later than the former).
We're not one thing, one entity, one label. And labels can't be made with our eyes alone. They probably don't need to be glued on at all.