We call upon the federal government to establish multi-year funding for community-based youth organizations to deliver programs on reconciliation, and establish a national network to share information and best practices.
Indigenous Watchdog Status Update
|Current Status||March 31, 2021||IN PROGRESS|
|Previous Status||Dec. 31, 2020||IN PROGRESS|
Why “In Progress”?
The Government announced on Sept. 3, 2019 an Indigenous Youth pilot project delivered by the Canadian Roots Exchange that incorporates some of the recommendations from the final report submitted to the government by the Indigenous Youth Council (three youth advisors representing the voices of Inuit, Métis and First Nations youth with recommendations on how Indigenous youth want Call to Action # 66 implemented). The government did not, however establish one of the key recommendations: establishing “Indigenous Youth Voices” as a permanent, arms-length, non-profit, national agency with a mandate to inform, implement, and build on the TRC C2A # 66.
Significant deletions from official federal government response
Deleted all reference to the Indigenous Youth Council and their mandate.
We Matter: 2018 #HopeForum A Gathering of Indigenous Youth Leaders on Healing & Life Promotion
The #HopeForum was organized in response to the current mental health and suicide realities of Indigenous youth and communities, and in light of the current national dialogue on the Indigenous youth suicide crisis, where these issues have not been addressed effectively. Indigenous youth have often been left out of discussions and meetings on suicide, mental health and wellness, which proves problematic when these issues affect them and their communities the most. Indigenous youth leaders also carry a lot of weight when it comes to supporting and advocating on behalf of their peers – while often dealing with their own personal connections to suicide. This gathering provided workshop sessions, facilitated by We Matter, Facebook, and safeTALK, for youth to explore their own needs as advocates and leaders of change, as well as identify specific ways to support their own wellbeing alongside the wellbeing of fellow youth. It also provided an opportunity for young leaders to lead the discussion surrounding healing on their own terms, as well as identify actionable solutions and recommendations for change at the community and national level.
Calls to Action
All these Calls to Action fit within the guidelines of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and specifically relating to Article 24, for which implementation is very important to us. These Calls to Action were agreed upon by 70 Indigenous youth attending the We Matter and Facebook #HopeForum in Ottawa Jan 21st and 22nd 2018. The youth represented First Nations, Metis, and Inuit communities from every region across Canada.
To Federal, Provincial and Territory Governments
- Create a policy immediately, which recognizes on-the-land and cultural activities as a key aspect of Indigenous mental health, wellness, and suicide prevention – ensuring funding dollars be available for these types of projects
- Train and provide resources for healthy adults and mature youth within communities to be effective in responding to mental health and suicide issues (this can include creating paid part-time support roles)
- Create low-barrier micro-grants available for community healing programs proven to be successful, such as: one-on-one role model mentorship programs for youth, culture-specific suicide response training, restorative justice, healing circles, and on-the-land projects
- Every youth should have the CHOICE, if they are at risk for suicide, to receive mainstream care OR funded traditional care from a healthy, trained, community member
- Every youth must have education in schools about issues like suicide and hopelessness, making clear their link to historical events and what Indigenous people have gone through. Similar education should be given to support workers, doctors, or anyone who works with Indigenous youth
- For any formal projects or positions in communities related to the above, it must be insisted there is a Two Spirit/LGBTQ+ teaching or awareness component involved
To Indigenous Leaders and Chiefs
- If you are spending time working and engaging with government or industry, spend equal amounts of time promoting health and healing within your community. This can include engaging in regular dialogue about emotional/mental/spiritual health, organizing intergenerational community events, and spending time with youth
- There should be a youth rep in every leadership meeting, and a youth council in every community
Indigenous Communities and Parents
- Volunteer as much as you can. Cultural and recreation activities should happen every evening, regardless if people are getting paid or not (and even if it takes awhile for it to have an impact)
To Employers who have Indigenous employees or customers
- Work more to educate yourself so that you know how to interact with who we are and better address issues like racism, which can exist in the workplace
To Media and Public
- Don’t only focus on negative things about Indigenous youth and communities. Celebrate us and all the amazing things about us as much as possible. Learn about who we are and the things we are doing, uplift our voices, check out our art, listen to our music, support our movements, and share cool things about us on social media!
Ceremony and Transitions: Culture-Based Approaches to Violence Prevention
March 1, 2021 – The Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres has released a comprehensive report demonstrating the connections between youth engagement in cultural rights-of-passage ceremonies and eliminating gender-based violence. Both on- and off-reserve, urban and rural, Indigenous communities are facing an epidemic of violence. By exploring the contemporary landscape of ceremonies, life-stage transitions, and other cultural practices with Indigenous youth in Ontario, findings revealed these practices as a key link in the reduction of violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.
Stemming from the root of colonial violence, Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people are a more vulnerable population and are disproportionately more likely to experience violence in their lifetime. Indigenous women are six times more likely to be a victim of homicide than non-Indigenous women. Two-Spirit and trans people experience violence nearly five times more often than their peers.
The report, Ceremony and Transitions: Culture-based Approaches to Violence Prevention, is the result of a year-long study led by OFIFC researchers alongside four partner organizations engaged in research to further emphasize cultural practices.
Youth were identified as the key audience to engage with and the researchers explored:
- Reviving language, land-based activities and regalia-making at Ininew Friendship Centre in Cochrane
- Indigenous curriculum and diverse leadership at St. David Catholic Elementary School in Sudbury
- Ohero:kon (Under the Husk) youth mentorship program at Six Nations of the Grand River
- Reviewing the insufficiencies of the colonial justice system, and renewing Indigenous justice traditions and legal principles at N’Amerind Friendship Centre in London
Each community partner highlighted their own traditional Indigenous value systems and ways of living. In such environments, gender-based violence is unacceptable. Participants learned healthy ways of relating to one another and how to make healthy choices as foundational practices for dealing with colonial violence. Restoring a sense of identity and self-worth fostered community respect and belonging.
Known as “Everyday Good Living,” Indigenous cultural practices make it possible to live well on the land, achieve social cohesion within community, and engage in reciprocal and respectful relationships with all. Through ceremony at times of transition, youth are invited into these practices, becoming personally and collectively responsible for upholding them.
In order to support this work to end gender-based violence, four over-arching recommendations were identified:
- Restoration of Indigenous relationships
- Implementation of Indigenous teachings and cultural practices
- Long-term community-driven research
- Strengthening existing programs and initiatives to encourage integration and long-term impact
OFIFC shares these insights in the hope that they can benefit other Indigenous communities and non-Indigenous partners working toward ending gender-based violence.
Indigenous Youth Council
“As Independent advisors who do not represent the crown and are not representatives of our nations, we are eager to gain direction from First Nation, Inuit and Métis youth and Indigenous organizations to amplify their voices and build a national platform from their vision. We honour those who contributed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and accept the task to table a report and recommendations on how Indigenous youth want Call to Action 66 implemented in their communities.”
Founders of Indigenous Youth Voices – First Nations, Inuit & Métis Network
- Maatalii Okalik: Inuit
- Gabrielle Fayant: Métis
- André Bear: First Nations
Advisors to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs
Indigenous Youth Voices submitted a report, “A Roadmap to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action # 66” in June, 2018 to Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations after their appointment as independent advisors in August, 2017. The report has five key themes:
Acknowledging the Past
For many youth, reconciliation is multi-faceted but must begin with settlers, the Canadian government, and non-Indigenous Peoples acknowledging Canada’s history of colonization with Indigenous Peoples and the lasting effects of intergenerational trauma.
Healing begins with this acknowledgment of past wrongdoings and is steeped in all aspects of reconciliation… One of the main answers to the question ‘Why reconciliation?’ is healing — it is needed in order for Indigenous communities to move forward, through culture, language, reparations, decolonization, equity, etc. It is seen as an ongoing journey for Indigenous Peoples that must be supported by non-Indigenous allies on the terms of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous youth, especially the young leaders at the National Youth Gathering, also point out that oppression is still happening — healing is not just about addressing past colonial injustices but also addressing how this colonialism still manifests itself today.
Survey responses on what reconciliation means to youth ranged from themes around collaboration and friendship, such as “the restoration of friendly relations” and “two nations working together towards the same goal,” to more nuanced descriptions that referred to respect, active engagement, listening, and humility from the government/non-Indigenous Peoples, and, of course, the acknowledgment of historical injustices.
Treaty and Land Rights
Because the historical basis of Indigenous and settler relations is rooted in treaty, reciprocity, and mutual benefit — and these agreements have been broken and/or manipulated in so many damaging ways — Indigenous youth are strong in their belief that reconciliation must address their right to their lands and self-determination. Further, for many Indigenous people, culture and their way of living is rooted in the land; with land development, resource extraction, and climate change, this way of living is constantly being challenged and/or threatened.
As shared in the Community Challenges and Proposed Solutions section, oppression and racism remain a significant part of daily life for many Indigenous youth. They see it and experience it in varying ways, directly and indirectly — the way people treat them, the seeming lack of understanding or awareness about their history or culture by many non-Indigenous people, the continued marginalization of their communities, etc. One youth shared a response that sums up the harsh disparity that some Indigenous youth experience and feel, saying, “If reconciliation is accepted by all today, the next generation could regard us as human and not with disgust.”
Requirements: Moving the TRC Call to Action # 66 Forward
4.1 We propose the establishment of Indigenous Youth Voices as a permanent, arms-length, non-profit, national agency, with a mandate to inform, implement, and build on the Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action #66.
Indigenous Youth Voices Network
We propose three key elements of the Indigenous Youth Voices Network: National Gatherings, Community Outreach, and an integrated Communications Strategy. The Network and these three elements would work in a coordinated fashion with, and also inform, the other three elements of the Network: Research and Knowledge Translation, Capacity-Building, and the Code of Ethics and Network Panel.
Areas of focus for multi-year funding
The story of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation is evidence that an arms-length foundation is a legitimate way that the government can show its commitment to reconciliation through concrete policy and action. While we stress the importance of a permanent fund for Indigenous Youth Voices that does not have a sunset clause, nor is dependent on a particular party being in power, we see many opportunities to learn from the successes and challenges of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. Similar to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, we see Indigenous Youth Voices as facilitating community events and gatherings, undertaking an ambitious research agenda directly related to Indigenous youth well-being and programming, and conducting community outreach and engagement.
Immediate Next Steps:
- Commitment from the Government of Canada that it will implement Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action #66 with a whole-of-government approach and that the Prime Minister, as the Minister of Youth, will champion this by supporting the creation and mandate of the Indigenous Youth Voices mission and vision
- Legislate the Government of Canada Indigenous Youth Voices Fund as stated in Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action 66: We call upon the federal government to establish multi-year funding for community-based youth organizations to deliver programs on reconciliation
- Initial funding for Indigenous Youth Voices for the following:
- Host inclusive Regional/Distinctions- based Gatherings that will lead to National Gatherings aiming to move the work of Indigenous Youth Voices forward
- Continue community engagement sessions around the mission and vision of IYV
- Support the knowledge translation and mobilization of existing work to date, including using data from our first national youth survey to create important documents around topics such as language and identity, suicide prevention, and community well-being
- Fund a backbone team to coordinate and project manage this iteration of Indigenous Youth Voices
- Develop an operational and accessible online Indigenous Youth Voices Network and Platform
- Distribute interim funds for youth programming by the federal government through a process led by Indigenous Youth Voices; Indigenous Youth Voices Network to participate in selection committee and funding reviews
Ongoing Requirements of the Federal Government:
- Commit to working closely with Indigenous Youth Voices for the creation of the Indigenous Youth Voices Government of Canada Fund and work with Indigenous Youth Voices’ Code of Ethics and Network Panel to determine the government’s priorities in funding Indigenous youth in Canada; this includes taking recommendations from the Panel to fund Indigenous youth ethically and based on Indigenous youth priorities
- Continue to deepen an understanding and awareness of Indigenous people – specifically, youth. Increased and consistent education of all public servants on Indigenous people is required in order to work with us to address our requirements
- Develop relationships with Indigenous Youth Voices Network
Program Areas of Focus for Multi-Year Funding at the Community Level
Identity, Language and Culture
Identity: Indigenous identity (Nation-specific) needs to be prioritized so that youth can learn about their history, traditional forms of governance, creation stories, etc., and feel safe to do so.
Language: Long-term language revitalization training, workshops, and learning opportunities are needed.
Cross-Cultural Programming: Programs should include opportunities for Indigenous youth to hear from each other and teach each other about their own cultures and traditions.
Arts-Based: The power of the arts was highlighted as an important way to connect with youth and support their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, especially in relation to identity/language/culture-based learning.
Participants identified the need for connections between organizations, opportunities for youth networking, and to travel and learn outside of school, and broad-based advocacy efforts by Indigenous youth across Nations. Distinctions-based exchanges were also identified as needed to strengthen connections within Nations.
Life promotion/Suicide Prevention /Mental Health Support
Cultural and land-based healing for mental health issues were emphasized, as well as a reconceptualization of suicide prevention as life promotion.
Two-Spirit/LGBBTQ2SIA – Focused
Two-Spirit-specific education and programs are needed, and programs must be inclusive for youth who are questioning or figuring out their gender identity.
Youth sports programs were identified as a way to engage youth and support their holistic development in an active, play-based way.
Health and Well-Being
Workshops (youth-led) and programming on topics like birth control, consent, healthy relationships, addictions, drug prevention, women empowerment/preventing violence against women were identified; participants also stressed that these programs can/should be in partnership/collaboration with existing programs/ organizations.
Capacity Building for Youth Leaders
Initiatives funding training for Indigenous youth to develop leadership skills and take on positions such as youth workers, build collaborative relationships with mentors, and facilitate workshops/programs are needed.
Provincial Commitments to Indigenous Youth Programs
Oct. 15, 2018 – IndigeSTEAM is a youth outreach program that was established to bring more diverse perspectives and seeks to eliminate barriers Indigenous youth face in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). As of September 30, 2018, the Association for Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta reports that of it’s total membership base of 76,400 members only 323 self-identified as Aboriginal (0.42% of total membership).
July 27, 2017 – $2.2M over 5 yrs
Federal funding for crime prevention program that connects youth with culture, land and each other. Project Venture operates on six values: let go and move on, speak your truth, care for self and others, be safe, be here and set goals. It’s expected to involve about 450 high-risk Indigenous youth from the Clearwater River School and the La Loche Community School. The money for the Clearwater River Dene Nation Project Venture comes from the National Crime Prevention Strategy and will be distributed over five years. (CBC)
Nov. 19, 2019 – Government will engage with Indigenous leaders and communities to identify proactive programs, such as the Outland Youth Employment Program, that could provide restorative justice opportunities for youth. Doing so will ensure that young offenders are held accountable while enabling them to receive an education, work experience, and learn critical life skills.
June 19, 2020 – Investing $675K over three years in PAX Dream, a successful youth-led mental health and addictions prevention program. The new funding will support PAX Dream Makers, a youth engagement and leadership initiative that will provide two years of training and engagement to an additional 88 youth from Northern First Nation communities, Rolling River and other school divisions
Dream Makers participants and their adult mentors attend four gatherings over the course of 24 months. Teams are brought together from different schools, allowing youth from different communities to foster relationships and learn from one another. At the end of this process, youth Dream Makers take on the mentoring role for new Dream Makers.
July 24, 2017 – Establishment of a new Indigenous Youth and Community Wellness Secretariat to work closely with Indigenous partners, including Nishnawbe Aski Nation, and the federal government to ensure efficient and effective coordination of efforts and resources to address the youth suicide crisis.
April 30, 2018 – Funding supports on-the-ground initiatives to:
- Promote Youth Leadership
- Support Indigenous youth to plan and establish a youth leadership forum
- Support Indigenous youth engagement in community projects that promote environmental, social, spiritual, and physical well-being through the Ontario Indigenous Youth Partnership Project
- Build Pathways to Wellness
- Support the work of five remote communities in Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Grand Council Treaty 3 to develop and implement community wellness plans
- Support Youth and Families on Their Healing Journey
- Revitalize the Stormer Lake Family Wellness Centre in Pikangikum First Nation, so those affected by trauma and their families can heal together, and invest in a community-owned database to identify mental health service needs and priorities
- Connect Youth to Their Land and Culture
- Expand Right To Play’s Hockey for Development Clinic in Fort Severn
- Provide funding to extend the Promoting Life-skills in Aboriginal Youth (PLAY) program to more than 60 First Nation communities
- Fund Jays Care Foundation’s investments in youth champions in James Bay Coast and Grand Council Treaty 3 communities to lead activities and events in their communities
Fund Outside Looking In, which is creating opportunities and safe spaces for Indigenous youth through dance at Dennis Franklin Cromarty high school and surrounding communities
June 25, 2020 – 2020 Youth Opportunities Fund, a province-wide initiative that creates opportunities for young people and empowers and supports parents, guardians and caregivers. The 2020 Youth Opportunities Fund will provide financial support to 43 community organizations that will benefit youth aged 12 to 25, and their families. Projects receiving funding this year include:
- Earthling Art Collective ― to provide development and mentorship opportunities for youth leaving care and the justice system in Thunder Bay.
- Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Employment & Training ― to help Indigenous youth in the GTA access employment and training opportunities in the skilled trades.
Tungasuvvingat Inuksuk (TI) Youth Life Promotion “Inuksuk”Campaign
April 28, 2020 – The Youth Life Promotion at TI, is launching the Inuksuk Campaign. Historically the Inuksuk was seen as a survival tool and during this pandemic, it is vital to remember our strengths and move forward in our lives. The Inuksuk Campaign is designed as a community project to share photos and videos of Inuksuk made by Urban Inuit or seen within the Urban Inuit communities. In support of Urban Inuit Youth, the campaign will also help bring together urban and rural Inuit community members in “The Fifth Region”. Statistics Canada has identified that nearly 40% (or more) of Inuit live outside of Inuit Nunangat and it is important to recognize urban Inuit communities and celebrate their unique history of urban Inuit identity.
Young Hunters Program
Feb. 13, 2020 – $1,227,016 over 3 yrs (2018-21)
The Aqqiumavvik Society with the support of Crown – Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada is developing and delivering a program where Inuit youth have the opportunity to monitor the local impacts of climate change, helping Nunavummiut address the impacts they are already experiencing, and build resilience for the future. This community and Inuit-led initiative is being integrated into the Young Hunters Program. The Young Hunters Program connects youth 8 to 18 with elders to build cultural resilience, community wellness and food security through traditional hunting and survival practices — all while monitoring and addressing climate change impacts. Funding is provided by:
- $412,062 over three years from 2018-2021 is being provided through CIRNAC’s Climate Change Preparedness in the North Program
- $375,000 over three years from 2018-2021 is being provided through CIRNAC’s Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring Program
$439,954.00 over four years from 2018-2022 is being provided through ISC’s Climate Change and Health Adaptation Program
Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019
As part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to implement Call to Action 66, Budget 2019 announced $15.2 million over 3 years, starting in fiscal year 2019 to 2020, for an Indigenous youth pilot program delivered by Canadian Roots Exchange. Canadian Roots Exchange is a non-for-profit organization which works to advance reconciliation by bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth to promote mutual understanding and respect. Funding will support the establishment of a distinctions-based national network of Indigenous youth, help ensure that government’s policies and programs are informed by the diverse voices of Indigenous youth and provide support to community events and gatherings for Indigenous youth and reconciliation-focused community-based Indigenous youth activities.
The Government of Canada also launched the Canada Service Corps, which was supported by an investment of $105 million over 5 years and $25 million per year ongoing and was developed with and for youth. This initiative encourages young Canadians to make a difference in the lives of Canadians by getting involved in service to communities. Youth benefit by developing skills for life and work, while experiencing personal growth. As a key element, youth will learn about reconciliation, allowing them to develop mutual understandings and establish and maintain mutually-respectful relationships. They will be encouraged to consider reconciliation while identifying and addressing a social issue in the community. Special priority and consideration will be given to projects submitted by Indigenous organizations and up to 25% of the projects funded through the call for proposals address reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
Deleted all reference to the Indigenous Youth Council and their mandate.