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From the OJEN Blog

Indigenous Youth Leaders Meet in Toronto for Shield Your Rights Orientation

Six Indigenous youth, recruited to help develop a game-based educational tool to improve youth access to justice, met in Toronto last month for a two day orientation session.  

Shield Your Rights is the technology-based project that emerged from last year’s design-thinking workshop, “Aboriginal Youth Designing a Better Justice System.”  The Law Foundation of Ontario funded project brought together Indigenous youth from across the province to explore technology-based concepts that would improve relationships between police and their communities.  Shield Your Rights was conceived as a quest for knowledge that would introduce young Indigenous people to their legal rights during interactions with the police. It incorporates the Seven Grandfathers’ Teachings, guiding principles for many Indigenous cultures.

Photo Credit: Winkler Institute

Meeting for the first time in Toronto on May 25th and 26th, the Youth Leadership Team (YLT) for Shield Your Rights, was briefed on the history of the project.  They reviewed the Feathers of Hope First Nations youth forum report, Justice and Juries—A First Nations Youth Action Plan for Justice, which was the inspiration for the project and the subsequent design thinking workshop that led to the game concept.

They also took part in sessions that provided Public Legal Education (PLE) context for the project, game design fundamentals and an overview of project goals. By the end of the two-day training, the team drafted a work plan that will guide their activities through to the end of summer 2020.

The Shield Your Rights Youth Leadership Team consists of six Indigenous youth from communities from throughout Ontario.  Some live on reserves while others come from urban communities. They include a high school student and a law school graduate who recently completed her articles. One youth was part of the original design-thinking project. Together, they bring a wide range of skills and experience.  All are passionate about improving relations between Indigenous youth and police and are excited to be part of the project.

Photo Credit: Winkler Institute

Over the next 18 months they will work collaboratively, assisted by the project partners, OJEN, the Winkler Institute for Dispute Resolution and Justice for Children and Youth.  They will advance Shield Your Rights to the stage of a well-researched and conceptualized pitch-deck and design documents, ready to present to potential funders.  

Throughout the project, the YLT will meet together three more times to consult with game design and legal experts. Although OJEN and its partners are available to support the YLT in whatever way needed, Shield Your Rights is a youth-driven project.  Young people have direct experience with the issues affecting them and are often best placed to identify appropriate solutions.

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