Graphic: Five illuminated images of Anishinaabe artist Nyle Johnston’s artwork, found in the Feathers of Hope Justice and Juries report.

Traditional storytelling for a more just future

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Feathers of Hope: Justice & Juries: A First Nations Youth Action Plan for Justice

Feathers of Hope: Justice & Juries: A First Nations Youth Action Plan for Justice, a report co-designed and co-written with youth across Ontario, was released in March 2016. It addresses the ways in which the justice system fails First Nations people, in particular young people and makes policy recommendations to support justice, safety, and healing for First Nations youth. The report was presented as evidence in the inquest into the deaths of seven First Nations students who left their communities to attend school in Thunder Bay.

Feathers of Hope (FOH) is a youth-led initiative to facilitate dialogue between indigenous youth, First Nations leadership, and government. At the first FOH forum, Indigenous youth spoke to issues they were experiencing within their communities. The second FOH forum told of the injustices, failures, and legacies of the justice system in the lives of Indigenous people in Ontario, and heard youth asking for a justice system that heals rather than punishes and incriminates.

Feathers of Hope: Justice & Juries release event

And Also Too worked with a team from the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth in Ontario, along with Anishinaabe artist and storyteller Nyle Johnston and a team of 18 indigenous youth who participated in the writing, editing, and design of Justice & Juries. Through a process of dialogue, design thinking, storytelling, and play, the team co-created artwork and infographics that tell a complex story about justice and community healing. Each Feathers of Hope report tells a story in both the text and the artwork. Feathers of Hope: Justice and Juries — A First Nations Youth Action Plan for Justice tells the story of young Aboriginal people uncovering the colonial roots of the systemic discrimination their communities face in Canada’s justice system. Using the hand drum as a metaphor for community, artist Nyle Johnston and designer Una Lee worked collaboratively with the Feathers of Hope Justice & Juries Youth Advisory to tell the story of how the young people who participated in the forum found reconnection in learning about what justice meant to them.

“It is critically important to us to listen to, believe, and engage with the experiences of the community. Some of the most important moments of relationship building happen outside of meetings in informal contexts like meals, games, and on social media.” – Una Lee

Photo: The Feathers of Hope hand drum resting on a person’s knee. The drum has dozens of young First Nations people’s signatures on the hide. A patterned carpet is in the background.
Photo: Una Lee and Nyle Johnston sitting at a table across from each other, each holding a pen in their hands. Between them is a large piece of paper which has rough sketches on it of artwork for the Justice and Juries report. The desk also holds a laptop, a cup of water and mug of coffee.
Photo: Nyle Johnston holding a marker, the Anishinaabe artist who we collaborated with to create the artwork in the Justice and Juries report. He is standing in front of a whiteboard, which is covered in sketches of the artwork for the report.
Photo: Four Youth Amplifiers and one Youth Advisor who worked on the Justice and Juries report. The youth on the far right hand side is at a podium speaking into a microphone while the other four youth stand behind the podium.
Photo: Three First Nations youth stand around a piece of chart paper. They are brainstorming their rights when they are stopped by the police.
Photo: Several people as well as six enlarged posters of the illuminated artwork in the Justice and Juries report. The posters are propped on easels and line the wall on the left hand side of the photo. The people are on the right side of the photo and are looking towards the front of the room and away from the posters.