Fawn Meshake says she knows how important it is for Aboriginal teens to confront the issues they may have surrounding their self-esteem confidence.
The 18-year-old from Giinoogaming First Nation, near Geraldton, said she attended several conferences that dealt with Aboriginal youth self-esteem issues. Struggling with who she was, Meshake said those events helped her to heal and see the positives in her life.
"Leaving (the conference) you feel better," Meshake said. "It gives you something to look at and better yourself. Everybody has troubles no matter who they are. You can seem like the perfect person but behind doors you’re hurting.
“Everybody has problems. Coming to these conferences, it helps bring something better to ourselves."
From that experience, Meshake wanted to help her community so she and a few others co-ordinated the Rising Aboriginal Voices with the Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre.
The RAV hosted its first forum two years ago. She said the first one went well so the group decided to test a larger crowd and focus the theme of the forum on inner beauty and self-esteem.
The two-day forum began Friday at the Best Western Nor'Wester Hotel in Thunder Bay. On the first day the nearly 16 participants met numerous speakers, including a model who talked about beauty before a photo shoot.
On Day 2 participants gathered around key speaker Ron Knutski for a healing circle.
Many of the youth in the forum have faced racism, alcoholism and drug abuse. The goal of the forum is to give the young participants a chance to escape from those negative influences and focus on the positives, she said.
"We try to bring them here to get them away from all that and bring a more positive impact on them for their future and their tomorrow," she said. "They are worth doing things for themselves, they are worth doing things for themselves in the future whether it’s school or work or raising their families."
She added that she planned to have another forum sometime next year.
Cathy Creighton, Meshake’s mother, shared her story about her battle with substance addiction. The mother of three also told participants about the different types of violence and self-esteem issues that she experienced when she was growing up.
She said she went 22 years before she relapsed for two weeks, but since then hasn’t touch a narcotic in four years.
"I see (what I went through) happening in other youth…quite extensively at times," Creighton said. "Today I see a little bit more positive change. I’m very grateful and honoured that my children have made some pretty healthy decisions."
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