Upcoming camp to focus on youth voices on vaccines, health care

An upcoming camp wants to tackle vaccine hesitancy in youth and help answers questions about health care.

“It’s really a space to learn from youth and gain their perspective in helping shape (health care) in the territory,” says Alyssa Carpenter, the director of the Western Arctic Youth Collective (WAYC).

The camp will also allow youth several creative outlets, ranging from sewing to digital story-making, to grapple with their thoughts about health.

Carpenter says Hotıì ts’eeda went to WAYC to help organize the camp and bring in the youth perspective.

Initially the goal was to focus on vaccine hesitancy, especially in small communities, but WAYC proposed opening the conversation to discuss health care more broadly.

“It’s not just vaccine hesitancy, it’s building trust in the care system is what we think is going to be one of the main dialogues,” says Carpenter.

One of the gaps she’s noticed between the Western and Indigenous approach to health is something as simple as allotting enough time to answer questions.

Carpenter remembers as a new mom she would have very brief meetings with health care professionals, sometimes too short to fully answer her questions. Once her daughter was born, she didn’t expect the number of vaccines she would need.

“Access, I think is going to be a really big conversation,” adds Carpenter. “A lot of folks are limited on how much they can access when they think of a small community that has a health center with maybe only one nurse, and how they have to travel outside of their community.”

The camp will also include time to harvest and learn about traditional medicines.

So far, Carpenter says more than 20 youth have applied from all over the NWT. The camp will take place from Feb. 23 to 26 and will be paid for all participants, but Jan. 31 is the deadline to apply.

To do so, email Alyssa Carpenter at waycdirector@gmail.com