Over the next year, Social Entrepreneurship Evolution (SEE) will be posting a series of profiles highlighting various youth social entrepreneurs (YSEs) in Northern Ontario. We hope that their stories inspire you; whether you’re already making change happen or just looking to take the first step!
“Waynaboozhoo Nendawaymaginadok. Oozaawa makwa Ndizhinikaaz, mushkoode bishiki Ndoodem. wiisaakoodewini miinwaa Ojibwa anishinabe inini Ndow. Baawaating miinwaa kitigaansiibii Ndonjibaa. Bezhoo midewiwinini Ndow”
Mitch Case is Métis and Ojibwe of the buffalo clan from Goulais River and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. He is involved with the Métis Nation of Ontario, does work at Shingwauk Kinomauge Gamik, is a member of the Shingwauk Anishinabe Students Association and works with communities across the province to build community and capacity. Mitch is a changemaker.
So, what motivates Mitch to want to make change?
Check out his story below:
Q: What inspires you to continue with the work that you’re doing?
A: I think the biggest inspiration that I have is my community and my family. Looking at the successes that my community has made on their own behalf has inspired me to want to make change. On the flip-side there are also the things we haven’t yet been able to accomplish that inspire me to do something about them.
Q: What is the motivation behind you working with the Metis Nation of Ontario, and Shingwauk Kinomauge Gamik?
A: My family and community is what motivated me to get involved, but I think that what motivates me to stay involved is that I see things changing. Sometimes incredibly slowly, sometimes frustratingly slowly, but change is happening and I think that’s what motivates me to stay involved.
Q: Who do you hope to impact and reach through your initiative? Why?
A: I want to inspire young people to be involved so they can see the big picture too. They can see that it’s more than just about them, or even just their little community, but how their community fits into the big picture of asserting our rights and moving forward and self-determination and self-government. One of the things I say all the time to young people is that not everybody has to want to be on the board of directors, everybody has a skill that our people need whether that’s in health, education, arts or whatever those different interests are, everyone has something they can bring to the table.
Q: Does the term ‘social entrepreneur’ resonate with you?
A: The term is new to me, but it is something I resonate with. I have motivation to see change, motivation to see things through to the end. But I don’t think it did when I first heard it – once it was explained then I was like “oh yeah” I guess I am.
Q: What barriers and challenges have you encountered?
A: For me balancing things is the biggest challenge. Being a full-time student and full time volunteer at more than one place has been very challenging. I also think trying to find space to do things has been a challenge. To try and find space within certain organizations to actually be able to affect change – especially in the institution where there’s always this attitude “well we’ve got it, we don’t really need your help.” But it’s like “well you don’t got it and we have people who can help.”
Q: Who is your community of support? How important is a local, face-to-face community of support?
A: For me my community of support depends on the work that I’m doing. Sometimes that community of support is my family, sometimes it’s my Midewin relatives, and sometimes it’s my colleagues within the MNO. You’ll find different types of support in different communities. Sometimes the best support is from people who are not connected at all, people who aren’t as frustrated as you are. For me, some of the most supportive community and people are also kids, and elders. A variety and diversity of ideas and experiences are important for me.
Q: What would have make this process easier for you?
A: There’s always so much work to do, and I think it comes back to determination. You have to be able to find the supports that keep you rallied up. Being able to see some element of success helps – you can draw strength and energy from that and that makes the work easier to continue to do. Maybe not easier to get done, but easier to continue.
Q: What other community initiatives are you involved in?
A: As President of the Metis Nation of Ontario Youth Council I’m working with young people across the province and our colleagues at the other Metis governments across Canada. We are doing a lot of work to bring young people together, to share ideas, to support each other in the work that needs to be done. We’re able to bring our different experiences together to make an informed opinion about a variety of issues.
I’m about to wrap up my final term involvement with Shingwauk Anishinaabe Students Association advocating for our place within the institution, for our place to look after our students, to look after the things that are important to us with varying degrees of success and varying degrees of resistance from the institution.
Work here at Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig has been in building up our community, as well as the capacity of our community. Some of the young guys here in the community are getting comfortable and competent in doing the things that they’re responsible for in our culture, to do that work of looking after the fire. Those are things that to me are some of the most important work being done at Shingwauk.
Q: Are you aware of other youth social entrepreneurs or those with innovative ideas that need support and resources?
A: For sure – there are so many young people I’ve had opportunity to work with in different communities across Northern Ontario. There are certainly people in Southern Ontario, but it seems to me there are more avenues for them to be supported by different community initiatives down south. But in some of the communities, in Timmins, and in Wawa, there’s just some incredible work going on by young people and I think if we can find a way to support them it will you know just enhance their ability to make change.