Skip to content

Ambassador program amplifies, empowers Îyârhe Nakoda youth

“It’s an opportunity to encourage growth and leadership within the youth because they are the future of our community.”

ÎYÂRHE NAKODA – Îyârhe Nakoda First Nation youth have exciting new opportunities at their fingertips.

A groundbreaking ambassador program invites local youth to a platform to showcase their talents, leadership and community involvement, and expanded tutoring services promise to provide valuable support and resources to help students excel in their academic endeavours.

“It’s an opportunity to encourage growth and leadership within the youth because they are the future of our community,” said Gabriel Young, community outreach manager with Stoney Health Services.

The initiatives are supported by the provincial Bridging Classrooms to Communities grant introduced in 2023 to develop Indigenous-centred community and school events, programs and supports.

“With the community development aspect, there is a responsibility to support our future leaders and these programs are to ensure that youth have that support to gain and strengthen essential skills,” said Young.

Both the tutoring and youth ambassador initiatives are offered through the Îyârhe Nakoda Youth Program, which engages and empowers local youth under the umbrella of Stoney Health Services.

The ambassador program is open to youth ages 14 and older, and, beginning in June, will meet monthly.

“It’s an opportunity for youth to voice their concerns and to help enable them to enact the changes they want to see in their community, so there will be leadership workshops, maybe budgeting workshops, self-esteem and identity workshops,” said Young. “It’s all about capacity building.”

An important part of guiding the direction of the youth ambassadors is ensuring the initiative is youth-led, but it will also have support from community elders.

The $10.5 million Bridging Classrooms to Communities grant is expected to support up to 33 community connection projects in schools across the province.

The remaining $3 million of the grant was awarded earlier this year to 12 Indigenous organizations in rural and urban areas across Alberta. Organizations like Stoney Health Services will receive up to $100,000 per year to work with school authorities for a maximum of $300,000 over three years.

The grant is part of the province’s overarching goal to support reconciliation by including First Nations, Métis and Inuit perspectives and experiences throughout Alberta’s education system and advance reconciliation.

Of the total funding, the Alberta Native Friendship Centre Association received $7.5 million to distribute to 21 friendship centres within its network. Following the initial announcement, Alberta Education held a competitive call for applications for the remaining $3 million.

The funding also enables organizations like Stoney Health to work with school authorities to improve access to transportation, technology, social activities, sports and tutoring.

The Îyârhe Nakoda Youth Program already has a successful tutoring program that will receive a boost from the grant.

“The tutoring program is to support youth in their education, increase confidence and promote positive attitudes toward learning,” said Young.

It’s supported by community members as well as BGC Cochrane to ensure tutors are available for students in need.

“I think it’s equally as exciting because part of the opportunity to grow our tutoring capacity could also come from our new youth ambassadors if there are needs they identify,” said Young. “It’s our goal to make sure we work with youth to ensure they’re supported in every way we can help them.”

Those interested in the youth ambassador or tutoring initiatives can call the Îyârhe Nakoda Youth Program at 403-881-3339 or email [email protected].

The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. The position covers Îyârhe (Stoney) Nakoda First Nation and Kananaskis Country.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks