Young Voices of the North Ready to be “heard far and wide”
In a cozy parish hall, on a bone-chilling winter day in The Pas, Manitoba, a fearlessly creative group of young people gathered to record the fourth episode of Young Voices of the North (YVN), a podcast funded by an Anglican Foundation of Canada (AFC) Say Yes! to Kids grant.
“The first two episodes are ready to drop,” explains the Rev. Jann Brooks, Rector at Christ Church, The Pas, and founder of YVN. “And we are thrilled to finally be able to let these young voices be heard far and wide!”
The former pediatric palliative care nurse, who was ordained in 2017 in the Diocese of Niagara, and into the priesthood in the Diocese of Brandon in 2020 to minister at Christ Church The Past, Brooks has developed a thriving ministry with young people that benefits from her unique skills which include compassionate listening.
In 2021, amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brooks launched a Brews & Tunes monthly outreach to youth ages 12 to 19. “Brews & Tunes was named by the youth for the combination of coffee, tea, hot chocolate and live music.” Says Brooks. The informal gatherings quickly gave youth a safe and creative space where they could connect through music and conversation. “When the Foundation put out the Say Yes! to Kids Request for Proposals in spring 2021, I asked them, ‘What do you want to do?’ and they came back to me and said, ‘A podcast!’”
With the help of people from the congregation to serve as “Den mothers” for the group and others to source podcasting equipment, the intergenerational team has braved the learning curve of podcasting together. “The youth choose the topics,” says Brooks, who wants as much as possible for the program to be fully youth-led.
In its very first episode the YVN team invited two of their peers who identify as “IndigiQueer” to talk about the challenges of growing up in the north as two-spirited. In another episode, the young people share their struggles with the impact of living in the north on education and career opportunities.
While YVN is based out of Christ Church in The Pas, the goal of the podcast is to engage both Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth across Northern Manitoba by travelling to more remote communities in the deanery. It is hoped that next stops will include Flin Flon, Pukatawagan, and Churchill.