Standing Bear is a program of ISWO that is designed to strengthen individual and community wellness by empowering and supporting Indigenous youth in making positive change by providing access to culturally relevant opportunities for growth and development.
A standing bear represents strength and courage in the face of a challenge or adversity. In the case of the Youth Leadership Program, it is representative of youth identifying the need to stand up, stand tall and represent Indigenous ways of knowing, learning, and doing.
In Indigenous culture, it is generally accepted that a holistic way of knowing, learning, and being must begin with a strong mind. While Western cultural notions may conceptualize the idea of ‘strong minds’ as simply being reflective of mental health, Indigenous peoples understand that leadership begins with one’s self. Positive growth and action in one’s self results in a holistic approach that impacts mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness for individuals and the broader community.
Given that sport and recreation are powerful tools for building capacity, developing skills and enhancing unity, they are catalysts and a strong foundation for leadership and wellness. ISWO is uniquely positioned and honoured to initiate and support a youth-led, province-wide leadership development program as one of the key areas in Ontario’s journey of reconciliation. This project is reflective of the Government of Ontario’s commitment to working with Indigenous Peoples and communities and taking action for reconciliation in an effort to create a better future for everyone in the province. The project was initiated with the intent of:
The Standing Bear program is delivered with one core and six optional streams of learning opportunities: