An Aboriginal youth leadership program, the first of its kind in the City of Wetaskiwin, is looking to help build an even stronger future for those selected to participate.
Wetaskiwin FCSS manager Linda Mueller says the leadership program was made available through an Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada grant.
The urban focused program will mentor Aboriginal youth in Wetaskiwin and work to provide them with tools and opportunities to become involved with economic growth and acts a leaders and stewards of the community using a variety of cultural and community activities.
Recent FCSS hire Brittany McMaster will serve as the program co-ordinator and is already brimming with plans she will have to pack into the short period of time the program is in the city.
Mueller says normally the program would run for a year due to a late release of funds it has been pared down to seven months.
McMaster says she will begin by connecting with high school liaisons to find the students who would most benefit from the program. “I really want to have them involved in the community.”
Another of McMaster’s plans is to help the youth better connect with their culture and history by fostering a connection with a Maskwacis elder. “Building a strong relationship is ideal.”
McMaster says sometimes there is a negative stigma surrounding Aboriginal youth and she wants to guide them to be successful leaders in their community and rise above that stigma. “If they could eventually walk away feeling empowered … then teach their peers.”
With the time constraints both McMaster and Mueller hope a sustainability comes from the program and a leadership momentum will continue to grow after the seven months.