DWF launches youth ambassador program

·2 min read

A call for youths between the ages of 15 and 27 will be made by the Legacy Schools program this spring.

The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF) has plans to launch a program for youth ambassadors to uphold change this summer.

The DWF is comprised of survivors from the Downie and Wenjack families that hope to make change, uphold the legacies of their loved ones and create a path for all Canadians to move toward reconciliation.

“We do a DWF live session that’s open to everybody monthly and we try to do it at a time when all schools can access it during the day,” said Lisa Prinn, The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund Legacy Schools program manager, educator and activist. “The youth ambassadors program will start this summer.”

Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old Anishinaabe boy who perished from starvation and exposure in an effort to leave residential school on foot during the winter of 1966, was sent to the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora, ON, in 1963.

Tragically Hip’s lead singer Gord Downie wanted to build “a better Canada” and made a commitment to raise awareness about residential schools through education and action.

The DWF started the Legacy Schools Program in 2018, and the initiative grew organically thanks to the involvement of both families. “When Gord first passed away, we were actually giving out funds to Indigenous groups, then we decided there was work to be done educating people throughout Canada,” said Prinn. “The Legacy Schools Program has only been around since 2018.” She added the DWF continues to grow and expand as time goes on. Now, the organization is working towards an education project for youth, by youth.

The opportunity will be open to 50 youth applicants and 10 of those candidates will be in charge of organizing a live session with the DWF to feature the cameo of an artist from the community at an event geared towards the region.

The DWF plans to provide four weeks of paid-training to youth during the summer of 2021 to prepare them for planning the event and upholding the legacies of the DWF. For youth between the ages of 15 and 27 interested in applying for the program this spring, please contact legacyschools@downiewenjack.ca or Prinn at lisa@downiewenjack.ca for more information.

Breanne Massey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer