Tara Beaver uses her public speaking skill to empower others at First Nations youth event

On March 18, the first-ever Aboriginal Youth Explosion was held at Mount Royal University.

It was a showcase for First Nations youth from Calgary and the surrounding area to express themselves through song, art and dance.

One such young woman was 24-year-old Tara Beaver who co-hosted and spoke at the event. She said that the event represented Aboriginal youth desiring a platform to be heard and to explore their identities.

“[This event] was all about acknowledging the beauty of our people so that they can see there’s light,” Beaver said. “I believe if we can acknowledge the talents that are out there, we can come together and celebrate life together.”

Beaver said that she recognized her own capacity to inspire and speak to her people after going through her own cycle of depression, confusion and loss — subsequently finding her identity and a sense of pride in Aboriginal culture. Beaver said that this process of self-discovery is one that could empower others.Tara Beaver shared her personal journey with others at the Aboriginal Youth Explosion held on March 18.
Photo by: Joel Dryden

“I don’t think a lot of people know how to express their emotions because we all learn to stuff it down,” Beaver said. “We’re all lost. Without identity, who are you?”

Lindsay Mitchell, event organizer, said that Aboriginal youth today are really seeking a platform to be heard.

“The youth right now have a lot to say and they’re in a place where they want to change their community,” Mitchell said. “They’re looking to bridge the modern world and their traditional culture.”

Attendee Trevor Imhoff, 17, said that the performances he watched surprised him with their expressiveness.

“I haven’t ever really seen anything like this,” Imhoff said. “Everyone who performed was very into it and they really cared about what they were doing. I liked it a lot.”

Mitchell said that stepping out in front of an audience of 200 people was daunting for many of the youth.

“They don’t really believe in themselves and they don’t really think they have the ability to contribute to anything in their community,” Mitchell said. “So for them to stand in front of an audience and say, ‘This is who I am and this is what I care about,’ that’s pretty cool to see.”

Beaver said that speaking out isn’t admired in Aboriginal society and her desire to speak out will likely result in her being the subject of distain.

“Not a whole lot of people speak out, and when you do you become attacked,” Beaver said. “But I’m going to stand strong because I want to make a difference. I want them to see that there’s more to life than being crabs in the bucket.

“I believe I am the arrow to the bow. I can get the ball rolling for people.”

jdryden@cjournal.ca