Will Landon has been using his voice and speaking out since he was 12 years old. From Rat Portage First Nation, his work is primarily focused on building relations between the “high context and low context cultures,” in this case being between First Nations people and Canadian institutions and people.
His first speaking job ever was when he was 12 and was working with the RCMP and Ontario Provincial Police leadership on Indigenous youth and police relations.
“It really picked up right from when I was young and just carried snowballed all the way. Now I’m going to be 27 this year,” said Landon.
For 15 years now, he’s been working with school boards, police, governments, and was an elected leader for Grand Council Treaty #3, a youth council, the Ontario First Nation’s Young People’s Council and the Assembly of First Nations National Youth Council.
Landon has worked to overcome a lot of obstacles in his life, and says he has gone through “everything Indigenous young people could experience.” But through everything he has been through, he says they’re all part “of a larger obstacle.”
He pushed himself to what people expected him to do and what his talents were, and realized that he was doing these things for other people and wasn’t doing them for himself and what he really wanted to do. He says he ended up falling into a “self destructive path” and is one of the obstacles he’s still overcoming.
“I think a lot of people will always continue to work on [themselves], but things get easier as you get to overcome that part of yourself where you feel you have to do what’s told of you,” said Landon.
He says that being able to address that part, forgiving himself for past mistakes, and “being selfish” with what he wanted to do in his own life have helped him out greatly.
“I wish I can go back in time and tell myself, or somebody could have told me, it’s all right to be a little bit selfish. It’s okay to love yourself. It’s okay to make the decisions that are going to upset people.”
And for future students ready to leave their home community and head off to post-secondary, he warns it’s going to be tough, especially in a place where you don’t really know people or the new environment. In Landon’s first year of university, he said he had made “almost zero friends” and almost didn’t really know anyone, but also says his course load was full and didn’t really have the time to get to know anyone.
He also says financial supports were a bit of an issue with making friends, as he didn’t have enough to go out and engage with other peers. But for students heading toward school, he emphasizes it’s important to connect with people and “you’ll have a lot more in common than you think.”
Today, Landon says he still struggles a little bit with social anxiety and it takes a bit for him to open up and to be who he is, but is something he continues to work on.
“I had a lot of shame and guilt and I kind of put on a lot of different masks to fit in with different people and I was always scared that people would discover it,” says Landon.
“There are [people in my life] more accepting of the flaws and who I was, but also made me realize that I had a lot more strong character traits that they found to be, that seemed to overpower those flaws and made them want to be friends with me.”
Now, he advises people to not be scared to try new things and to connect with different people.
“If personalities clash, if you don’t like somebody, or if somebody doesn’t like you, that’s totally fine. That’s totally normal in life and in the journey and the journey of life. But you’ll never find the people that you’re meant to connect with unless you actually go out there and try.”
Special thanks to Jasmine Kabatay for authoring this blog post.
Future Pathways Fireside Chats are a project of TakingITGlobal's Connected North Program.
Funding is generously provided by the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch, and the Government of Canada's Supports for Student Learning program.