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Youth empowerment and workshopsThe international and local commitment of indigenous youth for the recognition of their culture, their history and their rights

Youth empowerment and workshops

The international and local commitment of indigenous youth for the recognition of their culture, their history and their rights

To be a Docip volunteer involves putting one’s skills at the service of indigenous delegates during their participation in the UN arena.

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Youth empowerment

With the disappearance of the elders, oral heritage risks becoming lost, whereas it is fundamental that the younger generations have access to it in order for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to be applied in the countries and communities. By bringing together the elders who participated in the 1977 Conference and using oral history methodology, The Symposium has made it possible to trace the history of this period of struggle. The participation of indigenous youth, responsible for filming and recording the meeting, helped to establish communication between the generations so that they can continue the path that was forged in 1977.

Indeed, during the Symposiums, the elders hoped to pass on a message to indigenous youth, representing the next generation of indigenous rights defenders, for them to continue the tradition of oral transmission to relate not only the experience of those who first came to the UN, but also the struggles of their local communities, thereby pursuing the goal of self-determination in accordance with the spirit and intent of the treaties.

It was then that a project was launched to collect oral memory, involving follow-up by young people, who were charged with continuing the work of collecting the oral memory of elders in their respective communities for three years. Additionally, a more extensive research project was launched on the transmission of oral memory among Indigenous Peoples, as suggested by Article 27 of the Final Declaration of the Symposium and further developed during the May 17 side event at the Permanent Forum in New York.

The youth were trained in advance in the use of video so that they could themselves collect the memory of the elders during the Symposium, in Geneva and later in their communities. The empowerment of Indigenous Peoples, in particular women and young people, will thus be strengthened while other sectors of their respective countries will become aware of their rights and of the value of their respective cultures. An environment favourable to the implementation at the national and local levels of the United Nations Declaration on their rights will be created.

Watch the video created by young indigenous participants at the first Symposium of 2013: "Bridge to the Future"


During the first Symposium, 7 indigenous youth, aged 18 to 25, were selected for an oral history project. They were chosen by the Symposium Committee on the basis of the following criteria: they must come from the same region as one of the selected elder delegates, demonstrate an interest in the collection of oral memory, master the new means of communication, and be willing to continue the work of collecting oral memory in their region and produce audio-visual materials for 3 years, using and producing these materials to empower the younger generation. Those selected were: Ms. Haydee Banasen of the Cordilleras in the Philippines; Ms. Morgan Catlett, Cherokee of South Dakota; Ms. Sharni Hooper of the Murrawarri Republic in Australia; Ms. Judy Kipkenda-Jemutai, Ogiek of Kenya; Ms. Jacquelynn Lambert, Inuit of Alaska; Ms. Wayanay Mamani, Aymara of Bolivia; and Mr. Alancay Morales, Brunca of Costa Rica.

The main challenge therefore is to safeguard and transmit an oral tradition that is disappearing, a tradition incorporating extensive knowledge that has proven effective over three decades and which the younger generations need in order to ensure that their rights are actually observed in their respective countries. By gathering at the Symposium, the younger and older generations have been brought together in a way that instructs the youth and empowers in a sustainable manner.

In addition, the issue of sustainability - particularly relevant for a project on memory - is ensured by video training and follow-up on the part of the 7 indigenous youth, who have the skills and equipment to continue to produce videos for their communities, and to collect and disseminate the memory of their elders.