Aaniin! My name is Jaida Ponce and I'm going to tell you a little about my journey with the TRACKS Youth Program. As a younger youth in my teens, I attended regular TRACKS programming. I liked the way they incorporated science and brought Indigenous Knowledges into spaces I wasn't used to seeing it in - like in school. I also felt comfortable in my Indigenous Knowledge in those spaces, which made me feel like my personal experiences could add to the conversion.
Later on in my life, after I graduated high school, I was excited to learn that TRACKS was hiring. Reflecting on my past experience with programming, and with great encouragement from my family, I applied for my first position at TRACKS. At first I was nervous to interview, but the coordinators at the time made me feel welcome, which made me feel safe to do my best. I got the job (yay!), and was very relieved and excited to share in both my knowledge and experience though this program.
When I started working at TRACKs, there were many things to get to know, including the staff, schedule, and tasks I would do moving forward.
I feel welcomed on a daily basis with our daily check in and smudges. I can say this was the first job I felt that I was working to give youth a chance to build their skills but also was able to increase my own skill and knowledge as an Indigenous person. I've been working for TRACKS for a little over a year now, and have grown both my knowledge and skills.
I'm so grateful for all the experiences I've been given, and the chance to be involved in youths' lives and their learning journeys. I am looking forward to opportunities that will allow me to create more programming for youth that connect to the land, while also encouraging them to build their bundles and knowledge in IK.
I love to build programming that encourages youth to learn more skills while adding on to their already existing gifts. I will always recommend that youth give TRACKS a try, as I know many of my co-workers and youth I've worked with always want to come back and say it isn't like any other job they have had before. Being a part of this amazing team has been a gift in itself, and I look forward to the ever growing possibilities TRACKS brings with it.
Gchi Miigwech ga bizindoyeg Thank you very much for listening to me!