Non-profit organization Canada World Youth had offered international educational programs for young people for the past 50 years.
Programming for Indigenous youth included an International Aboriginal Youth paid internship program that connected First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth with Latin American Indigenous communities.
The Summer Indigenous Youth Program, which just concluded last month, saw eight Indigenous youth spend the summer in Peru knowledge sharing and networking.
“I didn’t know that we would be so similar, but yet so different. I think it’s really cool that we can share similarities and relate to each other,” one participant says in a video posted to Canada World Youth’s Twitter page.
Now, the future of Indigenous programming — created in partnership with the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, an organization dedicated to strengthening Indigenous nationhood, and Stem Minds, an organization empowering youth through STEM education — is up in the air.
Canada World Youth co-created the programming around digital literacy and STEM. These programs have not yet received funding, Julien Michel, operations manager for Canada World Youth, told Canada’s National Observer.
“Thousands of Indigenous youth over the next decade will be deprived of life-changing programs focused on livelihoods,” Michel says.
Indigenous youth will now lose the opportunity to gain work experience, cross-cultural communication and networking, as well as youth empowerment and leadership training, Michel says.
“All this at a time where young people, especially marginalized Indigenous youth, have had so few opportunities to acquire these sorts of skills in the last two years,” he adds.
In a press release, the organization says the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible for them to raise enough money to keep the operation ongoing.
In the past year alone, 88 Indigenous youth have participated in Canada World Youth programming, and Michel estimates thousands of its 50,000 alumni are Indigenous. The announcement comes on the heels of the global pandemic’s devastating impact on international travel. International travel only rebounded to nearly half (46 per cent) of pre-pandemic levels in the first five months of 2022, according to the latest United Nations World Travel Organization’s tourism barometer.
Matteo Cimellaro / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer
Matteo Cimellaro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Canada's National Observer