April 6, 2022 marks UBC Giving Day—a 24-hour campus-wide fundraising event aimed at bringing together the community to maximize awareness, engagement, and fundraising for important causes across the University.
This UBC Giving Day, we encourage you to support MOA’s Native Youth Program (NYP). The NYP is a unique summer work/learn initiative that has been running for 43 years at MOA. It provides employment and training for up to eight Indigenous high school student workers (ages 15-18) and one Indigenous university or college student worker.
The NYP builds students’ cultural knowledge and competency, increases access to arts and cultural institutions, and engages youth in critical discussions about identity. The program engages Indigenous youth in critical discussions about identity, embraces students’ lived realities and provides a cultural peer group in which to build self-confidence and community.
I believe the program’s impact on the Indigenous youth is best expressed in their own words. Here are quotes from a few of last summer’s NYP participants:
“This program was an awesome experience and privilege, I’m sad that the seven weeks have come to their end. I truly believe that this program is a great way for Indigenous youth to connect with others and learn more about their identity and cultures! I am leaving this program with a much more open mind, and understanding myself and others on a deeper level.”
Amai Campbell-Kamangirira, 14 (2021 Cohort).
“I would summarize my biggest takeaway from this year was finally building on the foundations of Indigeneity built last year, turning from a loose ‘I am Indigenous’ identity into a much more firm and meaningful ‘I am Haida’.”
Mackenzie Fong, 18 (2020 and 2021 Cohorts).
“One challenge I overcame was being comfortable with being uncomfortable. I knew I wasn’t going to like coming here without someone I know but I made new friends. I knew I wasn’t going to like speaking to the public, I still did it. I knew I wasn’t going to like getting wet on the canoe, then I ended up swimming. I knew I wasn’t going to like having to walk around campus but now I know where a lot of places are. If I stayed in my comfort zone, I wouldn’t have been able to experience all the things we did…this is my last summer before I graduate and I’m in this amazing program so let’s make the most out of it. And I did, thanks to all of the amazing people I had to opportunity to work with.”
Kiera Yoemans, 17 (2021 Cohort).
While the core program is consistent year to year, evolution in project learning and innovation in partnerships and use of digital media delivers new elements. Over the past four decades, the NYP has graduated over 200 Indigenous students, many who have gone on to pursue post-secondary education.
Through UBC Giving Day you have the opportunity to investment in successful Indigenous youth employment programming that promotes public understanding of the diversity and richness of Indigenous cultures. Your gift is an investment in Indigenous youth to express themselves and to take creative action on the issues that affect their lives, and sustain their cultural heritage. Give now to provide Indigenous youth with meaningful opportunities.