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Learning in Community: CBYF National Retreat Reflection

By Morgan Dunn

Tamarack Insitute hosted a CBYF (Communities Building Youth Futures) Members Retreat in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan on May 10 and 11.

Each of the 19 CBYF communities were invited to bring 5 members. Turning the Tide‘s project, CBYF Digby, brought Morgan Dunn, CBYF Coordinator; Anastasia Nevin, previous youth intern; Shain Carpenter, Child and Youth Practitioner with the Digby Alternative High School; Treno Morton, IC Community Engagement Specialist and Jocelyn Li, IC Director, Strategic Initiatives & Partnerships.

Morgan, Jocelyn, Treno, Anastasia and Shain attended.

Prince Albert, in northern Saskatchewan, is a primarily Indigenous community in Treaty 6 Territory. It is the homeland of groups who have called the Prince Albert area home for thousands of years. These Indigenous groups are the Woodland Cree, Plains Cree, Swampy Cree, Dene and the Dakota and Métis Nations.

At the retreat, we had the privilege of learning from Indigenous community members by participating in an activity on the 7 Sacred Teachings and a demonstration of drum-making. On the last day, we had the honour of taking part in a Pow-Wow and a dancing circle. It was a beautiful ceremony and I felt so appreciative to be able to take part.

Drum making demonstration
Anastasia dancing

Anastasia was invited to dance by one of the Elders, which was a special moment for our entire team.

There were many learnings and connections gathered during the CBYF Member Retreat that will enrich our work in Digby. Just two examples: I made connections with a member from CBYF Sudbury (also known as Future North) about a Community Map initiative they did to support with navigation in their community, which is an ongoing issue in the Digby Area as well, as it has come up numerous times in data and youth/community partner discussions. After our conversation, it gave us an idea for a similar resource awareness project in Digby for which we recently submitted an Innovation Fund application. I was also able to connect with CBYF Corner Brook learn about their recent Future Fair to provide employment supports to youth and connect them with employers.

Something that I thought was really cool was that Digby was mentioned many times when talking about CBYF’s 6 Domains of Change, which are common themes across CBYF communities. Digby was mentioned in 4 out of the 6 Domains of Change of examples of projects that have been done. These included: the transportation pilot project, DAYS (Digby and Area Youth Space), post-secondary panel talks at each of the high schools, and the Digby Alternative High School.

We were invited to attend 2 out of 4 sessions. I attended sessions on Sustainability and Resilience and Propelling Your Evaluation Strategy Forward. Sustainability and Resilience guided us in developing scenario planning, a tool that I feel will prove useful. Propelling Your Evaluation Strategy was a great opportunity to refresh my understanding of tools to help us evaluate our work. The presenters shared tools like a participatory evaluation canvas.

These sessions were also a reassurance that we are on the right track, as a lot of what was shared are things we are currently doing. I learned about websites and apps that can help to support with evaluation that I know will save me and others a lot of time. I cannot wait to try them. You can find the resources from these sessions and others here on the Tamarack site.

Some questions I am still left with after the CBYF Members Retreat are:

  • What does sustainability look like in other communities?
  • How can CBYF communities better connect between Retreats and National Gathering?
  • How do other communities share back impacts to community?

Overall, the retreat was a terrific opportunity to learn from other project leaders across the country, and to pick up new tools, techniques and ideas for projects. I can’t wait to start putting some of these ideas into practice.

Morgan Dunn (she/her)

CBYF Coordinator

Morgan has a passion for working with youth and young adults. She leads the CBYF (Communities Building Youth Futures) project. She has lived in Digby for much of her life. She graduated from Acadia University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Community Development. Morgan has worked with many communities both locally and internationally throughout her undergraduate degree. She has had the opportunity to travel to Ghana, Ecuador, Honduras and Peru working with and learning from local residents during these volunteer experiences.

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