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Red Rising Magazine

Ashley Richard is a Youth Engagement Activator with TakingITGlobal, where she promotes the #RisingYouth Community Service Grants and helps people with the application process. Ashley is also a co-founder of Red Rising Magazine. She recently presented her work and talked about her experience at the #LeadersToday Youth Summit in Toronto.

What is Red Rising Magazine and what inspired you to create it?
Red Rising Magazine is a volunteer run collective who work together with the goal of creating an unfiltered platform for Indigenous youth to share their gifts. Starting out as a print publication now spanning 8 issues, Red Rising has expanded into media, education, and live entertainment. Red Rising released a special edition Education issue in the summer of 2017 and has twice produced a sold out comedy show called Laughter is Medicine, featuring Indigenous comics from across Canada. There are hopes to expand into video, music, and podcasts in the near future. 

If you ask any of the collective members their specific reasoning, we all differ slightly but the end goal is always there. For me, I became very public about my personal history and the it opened up a journey of healing for me - I wanted to be able to create that space for other Indigenous youth. I also really believe in allowing youth to control their own narrative, as does the entire collective, which is why we are unfiltered.

Are there ways for youth to get involved in your project?
Follow our social media pages as we are always posting our current opportunities to get involved, whether that’s a call-out for submissions, a call-out for volunteers, or a brand new initiative we need support with!

What has been your biggest learning through this project?
Learning to work effectively with a diverse group of opinions. The Red Rising collective members are all powerful in their own rights, and sometimes opinions differ or vary when talking about goals for the future. We all respect one another and the Red Rising bond and the individual relationships I have made throughout this process will stay with me for the rest of my life. I value and appreciate everyone’s individual experience on this journey.

The magazine and the social media platforms touch on mental health and resilience. Do you feel like Indigenous youth face unique challenges when it comes to mental health? What advice would you have for Indigenous youth who are struggling with their mental health?
You really can’t ignore the intergenerational effects that colonization has had on our peoples. My father battled drug addiction and alcoholism his whole life and it completely took away his ability to be a father to me until his sudden passing at a young age. I live with that everyday, and in my life I have faced many struggles - sexual assault, homelessness, loneliness...but I never let those things overtake how much I have to be grateful for. Sure, I have bad days. But I was lucky enough to have had 20 years with my grandmother before she passed away - she lived her whole life to teach me how to carry on her work and I know that is a huge responsibility. 

As for a piece of advice, I’d say if things get overwhelming, take life day by day and move in smaller steps if you need to. Your life isn’t defined by comparing your experiences to the experiences of others.

What do you think allies need to know in order to best support our Indigenous friends and neighbours?
Mindfulness and self-awareness are really key for me. It’s never OK to speak on behalf of a community without their consent. Their stories are not your stories. Red Rising has been lucky enough to have strong allies join our collective along the way. Issue 1 of Red Rising Magazine has a really powerful article on allyship written by my friend Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud.

What advice would you have for someone interested in starting their own project?
Apply for a Rising Youth grant! Haha, I’m just kidding. But seriously...Red Rising started out as an idea and one person who believed in us gave us a $1500 grant to get one issue printed and then it exploded from there. The power of an idea is truly remarkable. Ask yourself: what idea could make your community brighter? What does your community really need? Nobody told us to start Red Rising, but we all knew the community needed it.

What does self care mean to you and what do you do to take care of yourself?
To me, self care means remembering to say “no”. There are so many great initiatives happening in my community and I truly love and believe in all of them! It was a lesson learned that I can’t do everything and that my energy is no good to a movement if I am burning out and spread out too thin. When I learned to say no, I was able to live a more balanced life and do things that are important to me, such as writing poetry and reading Harry Potter.

What's next for you and Red Rising?
Laughter is Medicine will be a national sensation! Also, I think we will start looking at ways we can branch out into new areas and harness our individual strengths. I am hosting the first Red Rising podcast here in Winnipeg on September 30th. Stay tuned.

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