Written by Jessica Charles, Indigenous Leadership & Development Project Coordinator

As a part of our partnership with Progress Energy, we had the opportunity to be a part of the Halfway River Youth Ranch Retreat. The Ranch was a beautiful open space and we were honoured to be invited. Throughout the weekend we had an opportunity to hear many of the youth’s voices in the community. There were times of listening, and times of discussion where some of the adults from the community would even share their hopes and dreams for the youth. One story in particular I would like to share with you came about when a youth from the community volunteered to share his story. He talked about how difficult it was growing up in 47 different foster homes over 19 years and how that instability affected every aspect of his life, pushing him to different sources of affirmation and value. One of my favourite things that he shared came about after an evening of him expressing his desire not to be there for the weekend. “Im so glad i didn’t leave yesterday,” he said. “I realized that Impact Society came here for us and I don’t want to miss what they have to teach us. Being together and growing together, helping each other, this is what a healthy community looks like.” Wow. That statement was a huge catalyst for the change and growth we saw that weekend.

Looking back on this weekend, I can’t help but think of the word ‘listen.’ Listening is one of the most undervalued tools of conversation. It doesn’t just mean not talking, but rather not thinking of what you are going to say in a response, or thinking about all the other things you have to get done after the conversation. The word listen truly means to be engaged in mind, body, and heart. I truly want to be a good listener to people, and always want to hear their hearts behind their words. We at Impact Society hope that the idea of having others invite us into their deepest thoughts, fears, and dreams is a concept that will never get old. We count it a huge honour to be invited into that place, and treat every word spoken or thought shared as a treasure that needs to be valued, nourished, and listened to. We hope that people leave feeling valued and heard, because at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all desire?