I am pleased to say Our Foundation is embarking on an exciting new program “Playing to Strength” that we believe will make a difference in the lives of Arctic Children and Youth, and the northern community in general.
“ Playing to Strength”,gives the Foundation a morefocused approach than we have had in the past and we are delighted that the Government of Canada through the Department of Human Resources and Skills development has committed to invest five hundred thousand dollars into the program over the next three years.
The program will be a moderated and accountable arctic wide, youth discussion that plays to the strengths of Arctic Children and Youth. It will be designed and operated on the knowledge that in terms of today’s internet technology and mentality, Arctic youth are on an equal footing with their counterparts in other parts of the country and the world. They have “tuned in” to the new technological world and the ACYF believes that is a strength that we can and should build on.
The overriding message we are bringing to both arctic youth and potential sponsors is based on the premise that everyone is aware that social challenges and cultural clashes confronting the Aboriginal Youth across Northern Canada are complex and wide ranging; from inadequate housing, to employment, education and training, a high school dropout rate of up to 80% in some areas, and most painful of all, a suicide rate that is 11 times the national average. It is a crisis complicated further by distance and isolation associated with Arctic living.
We also know there are strengths and that is why we choose “Playing to Strength” as our title. ACYF also believe the search for solutions to today’s complex social and economic Arctic issues must include greater participation from the youth themselves. That is why we will be reaching out to youth to participate directly.
Our message and invitation to Arctic youth is clear, and straightforward. Through “Playing to Strength” we want to encourage you to participate and speak out on the critical issues that you confront in your daily lives. Moreover, we will record, analyze and disseminate your views and ideas to others, including Governments and potential employers, to ensure that your voices are heard and considered.
The Government of Canada’s contribution through Human resources and Skills Development calls for a private sector sponsorship, equal to one dollar in five that can be on the basis of either cash or in kind.
I have been in touch with a number of northern business and organizations, and I am most encouraged by the positive response we have received.
First Air responded immediately providing in excess of 15 thousand dollars in air fares for the coming year.
In the coming weeks, the Foundation will be asking Arctic organizations, business and individuals for specific in kind donations or cash partnerships.
The Arctic Children and Youth Foundation (ACYF) has engaged youth across the Arctic in dialogue to identify and develop solutions to the most significant issues that they currently face. This engagement will capitalize upon the particular area of strength of Aboriginal youth and their parity with other young people – the use of Internet technology and social networking tools.
This project is a pilot under the Social Partnership Agenda with HRSDC, which tests the ability of leveraged partnerships in remote and isolated parts of Canada to generate innovative solutions to a social issue while attracting other in-kind and financial resources.
Summary of Activities:
- Established an on-line forum through which Arctic youth are encouraged and supported to discuss issues and participate in solution teams.
- Hired and trained forum moderators among the peer group of forum participants.
- Monitor and record discussions and innovative problem-solving sessions
- Assist solution teams in developing and implementing one or more solutions
- Establish the sustainability of the forum and solution teams
- Evaluate and report on the project and key activities
Arctic Children and Youth Foundation will partner with Foundations current sponsors, and seek out new sponsorship from the private sector in Canada’s Arctic regions. So to engage Inuit youth via internet technology and social media to address existing and emerging social issues across Canada’s Arctic regions.
In addition to the following project-specific results, there will be ongoing project evaluation of leveraged partnerships in rural and remote areas.
- Up to 250 youth engaged in online discussions and solution development activities
- Up to 10 youth trained and employed as online forum facilitators/moderators
- Implementation plan for preliminary solution(s) to social issues affecting Inuit youth
- Reports and recommendations aimed at government and stakeholders responsible for Arctic social and economic policy development
- Leveraged partnerships to attract in-kind and financial resources to match HRSDC funds in a ratio of 3:1
- Increased sense of contribution by youth to issue identification and solution development
- Increased sense of control and self-confidence of youth over their own futures
- Meaningful and accurate information from the largest demographic group in Canada’s Arctic
The Arctic children and Youth Foundation (ACYF) facilitates and works with governments and other child-serving agencies to ensure that national or international initiatives are adapted to the conditions and culture of the Canadian Arctic for effective implementation and positive outcomes. Among other issues, it focuses on suicide and substance abuse prevention, conflict resolution to help youth to acquire leadership, mediation and negation skills, and enhanced capacity of technology and Arctic-based websites targeted towards youth. It is well-placed to address community social needs across the north.
The Playing to Strength project provides an intuitive, innovative solution to the disparities within the size of this demographic group, the magnitude of the challenges they face, and their level of influence over social development programs.
The collaborative focus of this project centres upon respectful consultation with youth about their perspectives on serious issues and solutions in their communities. This will permit youth, via a technology-based forum, to give voice to and contribute to meaningful discussion and problem-solving – despite geographic, climatic and transportation-related barriers. The technology and focus upon youth will also begin to address the innate cultural reticence in expressing dissenting opinion and personal needs.
*This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program.