Aboriginal people under the age of 25 make up almost half of the Aboriginal population in Canada. Young Aboriginal people are one of the fastest growing demographics in Canada today. This means that over the next several years, Canada will have high numbers of Aboriginal Youth seeking employment and education.

More Aboriginal Youth than ever before are completing high school, achieving post-secondary schooling, gaining employment, and participating in conferences and training. This demonstrates the hard work and dedication of the Aboriginal Youth and their families, communities, and friends to build a strong future for youth and for all Aboriginal people in Canada. Aboriginal Youth are leading the way into the future, and now is the time to equip Aboriginal Youth—YOU! — with the skills and knowledge to succeed in forming your future as the leaders of tomorrow.

Education & Bursaries

Education is critical to improving the social and economic strength of Aboriginal people.

Student Support Program

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First Citizens Fund Bursary

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Aboriginal Youth Internship Program

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Urban Native Youth Association


Providing young Aboriginal artists with opportunities to advance their artistic careers.

"SPARK provides me with a space in which I can come and explore myself through different artistic avenues."

I got to perform again this year in the Talking Stick Festival which was a great collaboration with many different artists such as dancers, and poets. During the TSF I got to explore my culture, identity and also meet other amazing individuals in the community who are pursuing a career in theater and poetry.

I cannot express how important this program is to me. So it’s hard to even express the importance for all the other youth who drop in. This place is our home, our study room, our dreams, and our community. It is a place where you don’t only get to do fun activities but you get opportunities that allow you to move forward.

“The SPARK program is a crucial resource for native youth, including myself who has gained nothing but growth and positive experiences"

A young Indigenous woman, new to Vancouver reflecting on her first 6 months in the program

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Opportunities in the Arts

"UNYA has been like a family for me, the kind of family that raises you and prepares you for the world and the future. I've been attending UNYA for a year and from the start, OCM has been integral to me developing my professional skills as a mentor, leader and artist."

Collingwood Neighborhood Health Society

Youth C.R.E.W.(Culture, Recreation, Education, and Work)

Helping to reduce the barriers for Urban Aboriginal Youth (UAY) to participate in their community and the economy

Delivering Activities Relevant to the Experiences and Needs of Our Youth

One particular youth has been a part of the program for about 9 years. Unfortunately, he has been disconnected from the program due to work and school. However, through an out-trip we hosted, he showed up and last month we made a priority to rearrange his schedule so that he could attend the program as well as the Gather Our Voices Conference.

Not only he came back to the program but he thrived as he took initiative to helped out in whichever way he can. During the Conference, he’s even taken on the role of Jr Mentor where he was to help keep an eye on our younger members. He spoke from the heart on what he sees a good youth leader looks like. With the many examples, he demonstrated great leadership towards the program especially for the younger C.R.E.W members.

"My favorite memories happened during Journey. I remember times when we would paddle on the Fraser, and instead of having our paddles in the water, we had them up as little sails and just drifted down the river. I was able to talk to other people and make connections."

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Youth C.R.E.W.(Culture, Recreation, Education, and Work)

Youth C.R.E.W.

"The journey was such a wonderful experience for me and will always be remembered. To be able to paddle with the first nations was such a privilege and being able to experience their culture as someone who came from a different land."

Richmond Youth Service Agency

OSKAYAK Youth Program

A place for Aboriginal youth to gather, share their cultures and participate in activities within their community

One youth we have supported has faced many struggles over the years. Dealing with a family with mental health issues and addictions, she decided it was best for her to be on her own. At only age 16 she was living between family and friends homes while attending high school and receiving support from our Aboriginal Center, Pathways. Through Pathway's support services she was able to graduate high school and get accepted to Langara college.

Seeking out support for funding was not easy, but she was able to find support through scholarships, student loans, and grants from her band.

Her Father was able to take notice of this ability to self advocate her needs and he too sought support for himself. She is now living with her Father after her first year of college and has gained full time employment in the community she grew up in. Still attending Pathways, this youth is now become a viable member of Pathway's Youth Council.

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OSKAYAK Youth Program

The OSKAYAK Youth Program started off with 3 Youth Council information sessions in May of 2016, which resulted in 6 youth being elected to the OSKAYAK Youth Council that actively works towards a variety of projects in the community.

Skookum Jim Friendship Center

Splintered Craft

Splintered Craft is an arts based, pre-employment program geared towards youth ages 15-14.

There are 3 fundamental philosophies that Splintered Craft is based upon:

  • Creative expression is a valuable asset in all spheres in a youth's life
  • Safe atmospheres provide opportunities for self exploration
  • Pursuing meaningful employment is a bi-product of a healthy lifestyle

"Splinterd Craft helped me in ways I couldn't even imagine. Honestly without them I would still be at step 1 of planning my life, but now I'm an aspiring fashion designer with big plans for the future. Splintered Craft is a youth drop in program for any aspiring artists but to me and anyone else who's been there it's more like an incubation for youth. They helped me by taking me in and giving me the resources to go and do me. I'm really grateful for the opportunity to go and showcase my talent on a stage at the folklore festival."

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Splintered Craft

"I love splintered craft because it gives me a place to learn and grow creatively[...]Hopefully it keeps growing and expanding because I know I'll keep growing and expanding as long as it's here "

Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Center

Indigenous Roots: We Matter Youth Group

An outdoor and community based initiative connecting Indigenous youth between the ages of 16-24

Indigenous Roots: We Matter reflects the needs, wants and interests of Indigenous youth as the design of the program is rooted in respect and shared responsibilities.

Spiritually and culturally these youth benefited by gaining access to land based cultural teachings

The most successful part of our program has been seen at the end of our program. Our youth have expressed so much excitement and interest in becoming facilitators to deliver decolonization curriculum to other youth and teachers in the larger community. The interest expressed in being leaders, role models and examples for other Indigenous youth, sharing their pride in their cultural identity.

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Indigenous Roots: We Matter Youth Group

We Matter

The youth received mental benefits by gaining access to free direct skills training (WHIMIS, First Aid Training, Food safe, Leadership training and facilitation training). We have seen our youth benefit significantly physically through access to high tree rope climbing training, archery, indoor rock climbing, hiking, medicine plant harvesting and hot yoga.

Port Alberni Friendship Center

Aboriginal Youth Employment and Training Program

Delivering a culturally supportive opportunity for Aboriginal Youth develop their skills and increase their confidence in their search for for employment opportunities

“Joining this program has helped me grow my communication skills and make new friends.The workshops were helpful towards getting a job and getting the information on how to do a resume and gaining the experience of an interview. Others were on becoming an entrepreneur, ways to start your own business and resources that can help you along the way"

"All in all, this program has brought me friendships that I never thought I would have made. The workshops are very helpful in all sorts of ways. If it wasn’t for my sister who suggested that I do this program, I wouldn’t have amazing friendships or been on the cool field trips, or experience something so big in Kelowna. If I had to recommend this program I definitely would and would sign up for it again”

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Aboriginal Youth Employment and Training Program

Work experience is often the biggest challenge for our Youth. The reality of being accountable to an employer and learning hands on what it is expected can be very intimidating. Many of the Youth come with very challenging issues from their home life that often include parents who have addiction issues and live in poverty. They grow up watching their parents live on Government Assistant and have not had the opportunity to be mentored what it is like to have a job. Having the opportunity to even try out a job was a huge success for this program.

Lillooet Friendship Centre Society

Youth Engagement and Empowerment Project

Understanding the importance of building a strong foundation to work from when making career decisions or decisions about their future

One of our youth we'd like to highlight has overcome many obstacles on his road to success:

He was shy, had no work experience or transferable skills and was fearful of performing a job search. He did not have any Employment readiness tools but did want to find a job.

He started to build on his Portfolio and develop an Employment Readiness Tool Kit through the different activities the project offered. From his participation in these workshops he developed a resume, cover letter and interview techniques. He developed stronger communication skills and more confidence in himself and his ability to approach employers while seeking employment.

He did apply for summer positions but was unsuccessful in his attempts. In November of 2016 we identified a job that was suited to his interests, a Youth Leader position with Xaxli’p band. We encouraged him to apply for the position and supported him to find the confidence he needed to apply for the job. He was still nervous about applying for jobs and was worried he would not be able to perform the job duties. Once we explained the job to him he found the confidence to apply by submitting his resume and cover letter. After 3 weeks of anticipation he was informed that he was the successful candidate for the position and would start work in early December 2016.

He continues to work as the Youth Leader for the Xaxli’p band today and is very happy quite often stopping by and keeping us up to date on how much he enjoys it. We continue to support him and it is easy to see how much more confident he is. He thanked us for our help and said he loves his job and that he gets paid to play.

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Youth Engagement and Empowerment Project

Workshops Provided for Our Youth

As a result of being able to participate in volunteer activities through the Friendship Center the youth have gained work experience in a variety of different fields; customer service, sales, inventory and stock taking, painting and maintenance, child monitoring, cooking, prep cook, serving, dish washer etc. Youth volunteered at many different gatherings and events.