On June 21, National Aboriginal Day, we celebrate the heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. Alongside people from coast to coast to coast, we recognize and appreciate the contributions made by Indigenous people to our country.
YMCA Canada Board Chair Brenda Flaherty remarked that “the YMCA in Canada is committed to building healthy communities, and we work every day to facilitate the building of strong relationships between diverse communities in Canada, which includes Indigenous Peoples”. A strategic initiative within PLAN Y Expedition is to extend our outreach and engagement with Indigenous Peoples in communities across the country. An additional area of focused effort is working to play our role in reconciliation as called for by Call to Action 92 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report.
We value our partnerships and connections with Indigenous communities across the country, as we work together to achieve a bright future for all. A few examples include:
- The YMCA of Cape Breton’s newest branch, located in First Nation, celebrated its grand opening on February 22 of this year. The facility is the result of an agreement between the First Nation and the YMCA of Cape Breton and weaves the culture and spirituality of the Mi'kmaq people into its programs and approaches.
- The YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington/Brantford and the Six Nations community have developed the Laurier Brantford YMCA, slated to open in the next year. As well, the YMCA Beyond the Bell program on the Six Nations reserve works with students in Grades 1 – 5 to provide the support they need to succeed.
- The Circle of Support collaboration between YMCA Calgary, the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary improves high school graduation rates of Aboriginal youth.
- The YMCA of Greater Toronto is engaged with Indigenous communities in many different ways, including: offering the YMCA Exchanges program where in 2015–2016, Canadian youth were able to learn about Indigenous histories and cultures in all parts of the country as 20 different Indigenous communities and/or organizations served as hosts; YMCA Cedar Glen Outdoor Centre launched the Wiigiwaam Reconciliation program in February 2017, a new cultural learning project developed and delivered in a newly formed partnership with Motivate Canada’s GEN7 Program and the 4Rs Youth Movement; and a collaboration between the Scarborough Employment Centre and Native Child and Family Services to create suitable and sustainable jobs for Indigenous youth through the Youth Job Connection program.
- The YMCA is a lead partner in supporting the 4Rs Youth Movement which aims to “change the country by changing the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth”. This movement is inspiring Canada’s young people with a new vision for future generations and are engaging Canadians in changing the course of their own history.
Peter Dinsdale, President and Chief Executive Officer of YMCA Canada stated that “on this day, we reflect on the future we want to see for the children, families and communities we serve across the country. We appreciate the significant contributions of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and know that together, we will create the future we envision today”.