Braiding Stories to Live By ~ 2019 Indigenous Young Women's Summer Gathering

Braiding Stories to Live By

The Gathering:

If you are an Indigenous young woman between the ages of 10 and 16 join us in the first annual Braiding Stories to Live By Summer Gathering. Each day you will be invited to participate in a variety of experiences that honour your whole beings: emotional, mental, physical and spiritual. From the Elders and knowledge holders we will learn the wisdom of the grandmothers. From community guests we will learn about contemporary wellness and wisdom practices. With the team we will create edible and beautiful snacks; engage in a variety of artistic creative experiences; make use of the beauty of the site and go outside to enjoy the summer weather; while always taking this opportunity to think about who we are, and are becoming as Indigenous young women.

Where: We will gather at the Fort McMurray Tarsands Lions Club at 3 Tolen Drive, Fort McMurray Alberta

When: Daily from Monday, July 15 to Friday, July 19, 2019 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Registration: Registration opens June 12, 2019. Email your completed form to Kyla Cardinal at or hand in a hard copy to one of the following team members (Kyla, Alyssa, Pollyanna, or Trudy).

Contact Information:

BSTLB Phone number: 780-715-4694

Kyla Cardinal ~ Co-ordinator/co-creator
email: (email registration here)

Trudy Cardinal ~ Director / co-creator

Quote from director Trudy Cardinal: "This idea of stories to live by is that the stories we are told or that we experience shape our identity and how we live in the world. I was really interested in creating a space where young Indigenous women can come together with multiple generations of women to create this beautiful circle of intergenerational knowledge. So how do we honour that deep wisdom from our ancestors and our culture with who we are in this moment to create a vision of who we want to be in the future?"

The Team:

Meet Dr. Trudy Cardinal

Trudy CardinalDirector and co-creator: Trudy Cardinal is a Métis/Cree associate professor from Northern Alberta who currently works at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. Originally from Slave Lake, she spent grew up in the communities of Wabasca, Slave Lake and High Prairie. She was an elementary school teacher for 13 years before going on to graduate school to obtain first her master's degree, then her doctorate. She was invited by the committee to become part of the team and create a rural program designed for Indigenous young women. Inspired by the on-campus Cree language and culture day camp: Young Indigenous Women's Circle of Leadership, she drew on her own research with a focus on identity and, in particular, the ways Indigenous young women negotiate who they are and are becoming in the midst of the stories told to, by and about them. With her daughter she began to co-create, the Braiding Stories to Live By ~ Indigenous Young Women's Summer Gathering. The intent was to co-create, in community, with community members and allow the gathering to unfold and become with the input first of the community women, part of the team, and then with the young women themselves.

Link to an interview with director Trudy Cardinal :

Meet Kyla Cardinal

Kyla CardinalA Métis woman from the town of High Prairie, Alberta, Kyla enjoys practicing a healthy, active lifestyle with her daughter. She enjoys continually learning about her culture and spirituality through her Reiki practice, yoga, meditation and time outdoors. Kyla attended Grant MacEwan University and, since then, brings with her a wealth of knowledge gained from various positions that promote her passion for the wellbeing of youth and their families. From her earlier roles such as a Parent Educator in St. Albert supporting young moms and their babies, to her current position as an Indigenous Liaison for the Catholic School Board, she creates welcoming spaces by bringing her artistic abilities, her creative vision and her ability to connect with children, youth and families. She is enthusiastic about helping to co-create a gathering and a strong intergenerational circle to surround Indigenous young women. Drawing together the people who have guided her along her path in Fort McMurray in the creation of the Braiding Stories to Live By team, Kyla hopes to help create a space where Indigenous young women can come to explore who they are and who they are becoming.

Meet Alyssa Mayers

As a young Métis woman born and raised in Fort McMurray, she brings a connection to the larger community including the Nistawoyou Friendship centre. Through previous experiences she's obtained extensive knowledge for creating and implementing various youth programs in the Wood Buffalo region and surrounding Indigenous communities. She also brings her passion for health, wellness, nutrition and yoga to the gathering. As a mother of two young children, and working closely with children, youth and families in her role as an Indigenous Liaison, she will help to create a warm and nurturing environment where the young women feel welcomed but also see the many ways one can be Métis while drawing on the wisdom of the grandmothers, as well as knowledge from today and other traditions to create a holistic and well-balanced life.

Meet Elder Pollyanna McBain

Elder Pollyanna McBainElder Pollyanna McBain, a Mi'kmaq woman from the Eel River Bar First Nation in New Brunswick. She is currently a Cultural Navigator for the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Education Program for the Fort McMurray Public School Board. Because the Braiding Stories to Live By Gathering is designed to be inclusive and inviting to all the Indigenous young women of Fort McMurray and surrounding area we were excited to include Elder Pollyanna, who while not originally of the community, has been here since 2014 and created strong connections and is able to build relationships to First Nations, Metis and Inuit of the Wood Buffalo region. With her extensive Indigenous knowledge, women's teachings and storytelling ability she will share her wisdom as we gather together. Pollyanna worked for Indigenous & Northern Development as an Employment Equity Coordinator & Funding Services, Social Assistance Administrator for her community, Intervener/Support worker for Child & Family Services. Attended UNB Indigenous Business.

Link to McMurray magazine article:

Gary JohnMeet Gary John

Gary John is committed to a holistic approach to life and living! He enjoys life and he wants you to enjoy it also. He has supported hundreds of individuals in making positive changes in their lives in areas such as:

  • personal transformation
  • relationship growth
  • workplace team environments
  • recovering from past trauma
  • starting your own business

Using various healing modalities including relaxation and meditation, healing massage, Reiki and hypnotherapy, he has walked alongside his clients and friends as they learned to "steer their own ship" in life.

Whether your goals are to start your own business, heal a relationship or recover from a past trauma, Gary's life coaching services will undoubtedly bring you added courage, clarity and confidence to achieve whatever it is you want for yourself and your life.

In the early 1990s, Gary John, left a comfortable position as a Process Operator at Syncrude to specialize in holistic health.

Meet Cree Language & Cultural Knowledge Holder Julia McDougall

Julia McDougall currently works as a Pedagogical Supervisor - Language and Culture for the Northland School Division No. 61. She brings to the Indigenous young women's summer gathering extensive knowledge of Cree Language and teachings of the northern Alberta Cree Peoples. Over her career she has worked with families, Elders, school and communities in her efforts to support children and youth to be strong in identity, healthy and successful. Julia has a Bachelor of Education from the First Nations University of Canada. Her degree includes a Native Studies major and a minor in Cree Language/Linguistics. She is currently pursuing a Masters Degree. As a fluent Cree speaker with familial knowledge of this land she will support the young women and the team to deepen their own connections to this land, their own culture and to beauty of Indigenous language.

Link to article about her work with NSLD No. 61:


The Braiding Stories to Live By project is made possible by donations from Urban Systems Foundation, Pembina Pipeline Corporation, and Barry and Suneeta Jobanputra through the Aabhaar Fund, as well as several other generous individuals. As a nonprofit, the committee works all year long to keep the cost free, and to be able to continue to offer rich and diverse experiences. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor you can contact Sean Mowat at and reference the name of the project: Braiding Stories to Live By.