Winnipeg's Aboriginal Youth Opportunities is a youth movement committed to providing the city's indigenous community with more opportunities. One of its leaders, Lenard Monkman, met with a collective of 11 other young Winnipeggers last summer to discuss the next step in the mission — creating a magazine. Consisting primarily of students, writers and designers, the collective developed the idea of Red Rising Magazine as a means of providing a platform for indigenous peoples to tell their stories: unfiltered, unskewed, and from their own perspective.
"There can't be reconciliation without the continued exposure of the truth," said Monkman (who, in addition to his work as a community organizer, is also an associate producer at CBC Aboriginal). "The more we share these stories, the more they become a part of the collective consciousness."
There can't be reconciliation without the continued exposure of the truth.
- Lenard Monkman, community organizer at Aboriginal Youth Opportunities
Having had their own experiences with media and feeling that their voices weren't accurately portrayed, the collective felt it was necessary to have a place where they could speak their minds and give others a peek into indigenous peoples' thoughts. They also wanted to inspire a whole new generation of creative minds within the community.
"There's so much untapped talent, so this is really meant to inspire the next writers, artists, and thinkers, and give them an avenue to express their ideas," Monkman said.
The collective put their first issue out on Oct. 9, 2015 and are now preparing for the launch of their second issue on Jan. 27, 2016. While the first issue focused on empowerment — featuring articles, artwork, and poems — the second issue is focused on truth and reconciliation.
"When we talk about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, people are only talking about it from a residential school aspect," Monkman explains. "That's one policy that's been put in place that's [caused] Indigenous people in this country to suffer, but there are so many other stories out there that need to be told, and I think Red Rising gives people an opportunity to tell those stories."
Their hope is to target indigenous and non-indigenous peoples alike, drawing attention to both the real history and daily life of Canada's indigenous peoples.
Red Rising's second issue will also feature poetry, artwork, stories and Mi'kmaq professor, activist and politician Pam Palmater as its guest writer. In future issues they plan to include a section called "Behind the Wall," which will feature the writing of incarcerated indigenous peoples.
Copies of the magazine can be purchased from the Red Rising website or from Neechi Niche Art Store and Gallery, inside Neechi Commons — a community business complex that caters to Winnipeg's indigenous community. The collaboration with Neechi and other artists and businesses within the community is imperative to Red Rising's mission.
"The more we are able to reach out to different parts of the community, the more people will see the value in having something like a magazine going forward," Monkman said. "You can really use a magazine to bring different people from the community together."