The Youth Social Infrastructure Collaborative has a historic, tangible presence in the North for some time now. I know this as I have reflected on the power of YSI in my hometown. Sault Ste. Marie, multiple times as an aspiring community developer. I first heard of the collaborative in one of my university classes while pursuing a degree in Community Economic and Social Development at Algoma University. Look at this organization of volunteers doing all of the things we are theorizing about!
During my first learning experience as a person doing community development work in a northern research institute, I was working on a project for Indigenous youth led by Indigenous youth. For those of us working on that project, YSI was an ever present influence. I was immensely inspired by the conscious way that they hosted space, the inclusiveness of the work that YSI did, and the encouraged dialogue between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in my region.
More inspiring that simply the processes that YSI had were the people engaged in the collaborative. I had the good fortune of connecting with people who had been involved with YSI Algoma in one way or another in various capacities in my community, Sault Ste. Marie. These people helped me understand how I want to be in the world.
By some stroke of magical luck, I - Krista Bissiallon - am an employee with YSI. I was not present when the fire in Algoma was initially lit, but I can certainly feel it today. I feel it in the way that I was welcomed into the collaborative with kindness and happiness.
When I began my work with YSI, I knew that the universe was gifting me with an amazing opportunity. I knew that this work would be challenging and rewarding, I also knew that it would take some time to find my footing and confidence. The work that has been done before me has been full of heart and soul, done by people who invested a lot of themselves into the processes. I knew that when I began, I wanted to make sure that I am honoring all that has been done to the fullest. The rewards are in contributing to the impact of YSI and the challenges are in being totally confident in my power and ability.
When I feel uncertain of my path, I remember that there is a belief within YSI that the right people will come at the right time. I am the right person involved with YSI at this time, When challenged by an obstacle - whether real or perceived - I remember that I am here for a reason: I have something to contribute to the fire here in Algoma.