First Directions: Resisting Criminalization

YouthCO Website FirstDirections

When: February 27, 2021 at 1:00pm - 5pm

Where: Zoom

Contact: Nona · · 604-688-1441 or 1-855-968-8426

Apply to be part of First Directions by February 8 at

This year, First Directions will be happening virtually over Zoom, an online video meeting platform. Participants will need access to a device with a screen, sound, mic and internet capabilities like a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop to participate. YouthCO can support youth to access a device if needed.

At First Directions, we are bringing Indigenous youth together from across the province to develop video poems on this year’s theme of Resisting Criminalization. During First Directions, a group of 15 Indigenous youth (aged 14-29) will:

  • Attend First Directions at no cost to them via Zoom
  • Connect via Zoom to collaborate, create and share space to discuss this year’s theme while being supported by YouthCO staff and Reel Youth
  • Learn how to create a video, including how to use film equipment, create a storyboard, and edit their work
  • Have access to iPads to film their scenes at home
  • Receive training on the various forms of criminalization within Indigenous communities
  • Develop a film around criminalization related to Indigenous youths’ experiences, thoughts, and feelings on the topic

First Directions participants will be able to join us online for three parts of our program:

  • Resisting Criminalization Deep Dive, February 27 & 28: join us from 1-5pm to learn about each other, the Yúusnewas program, and explore this year's First Directions topic, Resisting Criminalization
  • Film & Poem Making: join us March 8th, 10th, 12th, 15th, 17th & 19th from 4-5:30pm to create and film your own poem around resisting criminalization
  • Online Film Premiere: we will be releasing each participant's video online on April 8 at 7pm! While this is optional, we look forward to celebrating these videos online and welcoming other youth to join us!

As Indigenous youth we are talking about issues that affect our people so that we can share information with our friends and relatives about the numerous ways criminalization affects our communities.

So, now you might be asking yourself what conversations we will be having around criminalization?

Some of the topics we will be focusing on throughout First Directions are: 

  • The criminalization and stigma surrounding substance use. Exploring why some substances are criminalized and other are not
  • The criminalization of HIV non-disclosure
  • Going more in depth about the criminalization that land defenders are faced with 

Youth participants can choose a variety of topics around resisting criminalization. Criminalization looks like a lot of things; some we may have not even thought about before now:

  • Systemic racism results in the targeting, surveillance and over representation of Indigenous folx in the justice system
  • Stigma around sex work, HIV and substance use can affect what gets criminalised and what does not
  • Indigenous communities had their own way of dealing with individuals who broke their rules or norms pre-contact; today that can look like restorative justice  
  • Because of colonization and racism, a very high proportion of individuals who are incarcerated are Indigenous, compared to the among of Indigenous people in Canada
  • Colonization has affected our relationship with land, water and each other
  • And so much more!

Apply by February 8 at